An Adaptable Power Control Unit for Ion Thruster Micro-Propulsion Subsystems


Product Description

During recent years, different electrical propulsion thrusters in the micro-newton range such as Field Emission Electrical Propulsion thrusters (FEEP) and Radio-Frequency Ion Thrusters (RIT), in Europe, and colloid thrusters, in the U.S., have progressed and achieved considerable milestones both in development and qualification activities so that a significant number of space missions with applications requiring a very high level of controllability in the micro-Newton range (e.g. for drag-free experiments, fine pointing/attitude control or formation flying) are today really feasible. Given that the electronic package is one of the key elements of any electrical propulsion subsystem, providing the electrical power to the thrusters, it actually plays an important role in the overall micro-propulsion performances. In fact, the electronic package (hereafter recalled as Power Control Unit – PCU), beyond being a driving factor for mass and power consumption, effectively allows the micro-propulsion subsystem to meet stringent thrust requirements in terms of resolution, accuracy, controllability and noise. From this perspective, this paper is presenting:
• An up-to-date status of the Power Control Unit (PCU) developed by SELEX Galileo to supply and control an electrical micro-propulsion subsystems making use FEEP technology.
• Review of the micro-propulsion subsystems aspects linked to the electronic package requirements.
• Finally, a review of the developed Power Control Unit for FEEP for its adaptability to different Ion thruster technology (e.g. micro-RIT technology).

Additional Information

Time of event

September 11 – 15, 2011

Сonference Title

32nd International Electric Propulsion Conference

Conference Venue

Wiesbaden Germany




Aerospace Engineering



Types of files



Ceruti L., Polli A.


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