Electric Propulsion

Electric PropulsionNorthrop Grumman has been developing selected electric propulsion technologies and systems since the 1970s. A Northrop Grumman-developed arcjet system, launched in 1999, is the highest power (30kW) electric propulsion system flown to date. The company is now developing a 200 W Hall propulsion system to support a demonstration of formation-flying three satellites.


Electric propulsion can be used for multiple types of in-space missions, from inserting spacecraft into specific orbits to repositioning spacecraft, stationkeeping, and constellation management. Electric thrusters have much higher specific impulse than chemical thrusters, and provide two to three times more fuel efficiency. Higher fuel efficiency means less propellant is needed on-board, allowing spacecraft designers to reduce overall spacecraft weight and launch costs or to add more weight and capability to the payload.