Russia test-fires Krypton powered satellite thruster
Fakel and Keldysh Research Center implemented a krypton-based thruster to rockets which is up to ten times cheaper than Xenon which was commonly used before.
According to Roscosmos, Russian rocket engine manufacturers have developed an innovative form of satellite thruster driven by krypton, a noble gas that is up to ten times cheaper than the commonly used xenon.
"Experimental design bureau Fakel … and Keldysh Research Center have for the first time [in Russia] tested a stationary plasma jet engine, SPT-70M, using krypton as a propellant," the statement of the space station corporation read.
Technicalities of the Space Rockets
While in orbit, satellites employ thrusters to move around, dodge space junk, alter altitude, or de-orbit (fall out of orbit).
Xenon has long been the to-go-to working gas in most electric propulsion engines, where it is transformed into a plasma jet to act as a thruster of the rocket.
However, Fakel CEO Gennady Abramenkov, said that employing xenon in rocket manufacturing has been challenging for Fakel because of its scarcity and high cost.
Roscosmos had revealed back in December that it was seeking an alternative gas to power satellite engines as part of the Sphere (Sfera) national project, which aims to create communication and Earth remote sensing constellations by 2030.
Read more: Russia must increase satellites in orbit fivefold: Roscosmos chief
Back in January, Yuri Borisov, the head of Roscosmos, said that Russia must have at least 1,000 satellites in orbit by 2023.
Russia currently has about 200 satellites in orbit and must begin producing 250 spacecraft annually in order to reach this five-fold increase by 2030.
The 1,000 satellite target should vary in function and perform communication, remote sensing, weather monitoring, and navigation tasks.
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