Solar Electric Propulsion Systems

  • 2019 - Illustration of Gateway's power & propulsion element. Credit: NASA

Sustainable and reliable propulsion for in-space operations

Aerojet Rocketdyne is developing a full range of Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) products and capabilities to enable and support NASA, DoD and commercial spaceflight activities. Our SEP offering is built around industry leading electric propulsion subsystem and space power subsystem capabilities. These subsystems enable us to offer a “photons to ions capability”– a full SEP system capability from collecting solar arrays to creating thrust out of EP thrusters.  

With a power management system designed specifically for the unique demands of electric propulsion, combined with the highest efficiency and highest power electric propulsion subsystem on the market, Aerojet Rocketdyne’s SEP offering is optimized for propulsive performance. Our SEP system enables the safe transfer of cargo, habitats and science payloads to deep space destinations prior to human arrival; enables resilient mission capability for the Warfighter; and provides enhanced capabilities for the commercial satellite industry.

Key Features

Strong Foundation: Aerojet Rocketdyne and NASA are working together to develop SEP modules built around the next-generation high-power electric propulsion systems and fully optimized power management systems.

Fuel Efficient: Energized by the electric power from on-board solar arrays, electric propulsion systems use significantly less propellant than comparable, conventional chemical propulsion systems.

Modular Design: Our module’s flexibility allows it to be used for multiple missions – affordably and reliably.

Our Role

Aerojet Rocketdyne is a leader in building and integrating complex power and propulsion systems, including:

  • International Space Station 100kW power system (4x the power of any commercial satellite)
  • Power systems on Mars robotic missions
  • Electric propulsion on more than 150 satellites in orbit
  • Development and qualification of 13kW Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS), and 7kW NEXT-C Ion System
  • Development of 100kW Hall Thruster Next-Step Nested Hall Thruster String
  • Flight proven XR-5 Hall Thruster Subsystem