[Via Satellite 02-02-2015] Thales Alenia Space and Airbus Defence and Space have contracted European Space Propulsion (ESP) for the initial development of a new electronic controller for the XR-5 Hall thruster. The companies issued the contract as part of the European Space Agency (ESA)-sponsored Neosat program, which is designing a new satellite platform optimized for electric propulsion.
ESP will conduct a closed-loop test validation program with the electronic controller and the XR‑5 xenon flow control assembly at its Northern Ireland facilities to validate the system. The company also plans to issue Thales Alenia Space Belgium a subcontract for the program.
Aerojet Rocketdyne, the parent company of ESP, has delivered 16 flight XR‑5 Hall thrusters to date. The company has a backlog of 64 XR-5 Hall thrusters for three different communications satellite platforms. Aerojet Rocketdyne is currently transferring manufacturing production capability of the thruster over to ESP. The company highlighted the lower-cost business environment in Northern Ireland, as a major draw. ESP is located in Belfast.
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