Aerojet, a GenCorp company, completed a Solar Electric Propulsion mission concept study for NASA Glenn Research Center that demonstrated the ability to reduce the mission cost for NASA Human Exploration cargo missions by more than 50 percent through the use of existing flight-proven SEP systems.
Self-funded under a collaborative Space Act Agreement, Aerojet’s SEP mission concept study yielded a solution that uses the same flight-proven electric propulsion approach that supports the Air Force Advanced-Extremely High Frequency SV-2.
By providing the aerospace community with SEP vehicle designs that operate at power levels ranging from 9 to 30kW and that use flight-proven technologies, Aerojet provides both a low-risk, affordable approach to NASA Exploration cargo missions and a stepping stone to next-generation higher power SEP transportation vehicles.
“Our team has constructed an approach that leverages the benefits of SEP to improve affordability and reduce risk for NASA Human Exploration,” said Aerojet Vice President, Space and Launch Systems, Julie Van Kleeck. “Using a SEP tug for cargo delivery, combined with NASA’s Space Launch System and the Orion crew module, provides an affordable path for deep space exploration.”
Aerojet has been an industry leader in SEP since the 1980s and has flown more than 500 electric thruster systems to date. SEP is in active use on over 200 satellites flying today. In addition to demonstrating substantial cost and risk benefits for NASA exploration missions, Aerojet’s SEP mission concepts also demonstrated substantial affordability benefits for a broad range of other NASA, commercial and Department of Defense missions.