Press Release

European Space Propulsion Receives Contract for 5?Kilowatt Hall Thruster Flow Controller

By SpaceRef Editor
January 29, 2015
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European Space Propulsion (ESP), a wholly owned subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne, a GenCorp (NYSE: GY) company, recently received a contract from Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space for the initial development of a new electronic controller for the XR-5 Hall Thruster. The contract was issued under the European Space Agency (ESA)-sponsored Neosat programme, an initiative strongly supported by the UK Space Agency.

As part of the contract, ESP will issue a subcontract to Thales Alenia Space Belgium, a leading European developer of space power processors for electric propulsion systems, for the development of the electronic controller. A closed-loop test validation programme with the electronic controller and the XR?5 xenon flow control assembly will be conducted at ESP facilities in Northern Ireland to validate the system.

ESP, a UK-registered company located in Belfast, is focused on providing in-space chemical and electric propulsion products for the European space market. ESP and Aerojet Rocketdyne are in the process of transferring the flight-proven 5-kilowatt Hall Thruster manufacturing production capability from Aerojet Rocketdyne to ESP. This will establish capability to manufacture the XR-5 Hall Thruster in the lower-cost business environment provided in Northern Ireland. The ESP-manufactured product, designated as the XR?5E, will benefit from the proven satellite integration and extensive flight heritage of the XR?5.

ESP’s parent company, Aerojet Rocketdyne, has delivered 16 flight XR?5 Hall Thrusters to date, of which 12 have flown on three Geosynchronous (GEO) Comsat missions. The XR?5 is the highest-power, highest-efficiency Hall Thruster ever flown and has received significant industry interest as the GEO Comsat industry continues to migrate toward increased use of electric propulsion, including fully electric missions. The XR?5 is the only electric propulsion product that has successfully demonstrated full electric propulsion orbit raising of a GEO Comsat from Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) to GEO. To date, 64 XR?5 Hall Thrusters covering three different GEO Comsat platforms have been ordered, with additional platform selections and orders expected.

“ESP looks forward to the opportunity to bring the industry-leading XR-5 Hall Thruster to the European market,” said Paul Sinton, managing director of European Space Propulsion. “The European satellite community has embraced the move toward increased use of electric propulsion, and ESP is highly motivated to deliver a cost-effective XR?5 solution that meets the needs of the European satellite manufacturers.”

European Space Propulsion is a provider of In-Space Propulsion products for the European space market. Aerojet Rocketdyne is a world-recognized aerospace and defence leader providing propulsion and energetics to the space, missile defence and strategic systems, tactical systems and armaments areas, in support of domestic and international markets. GenCorp is a diversified company that provides innovative solutions that create value for its customers in the aerospace and defence, and real estate markets. Additional information about Aerojet Rocketdyne and GenCorp can be obtained by visiting the companies’ websites at and For more information about ESP, visit

SpaceRef staff editor.