HIPATIA: HelIcon PlasmA Thruster for In-space Applications Projects uri icon


  • European Research Project


  • GA-870542

date/time interval

  • January 1, 2020 - December 31, 2022


  • The goal of HIPATIA (HelIcon PlasmA Thruster for In-Space Applications) is to verify the function and performances of an Electric Propulsion System based on the Helicon Plasma Thruster (HPT) technology, for its application in non-geostationary satellites constellations and other small spacecrafts.
    The Helicon Plasma Thruster (HPT), a technology under development by SENER and UC3M, is a radiofrequency powered plasma propulsion technology that can offer a good level of performance while eliminating many of the design and manufacturability issues - electrodes, high voltage electronics, and complex fabrication - which have afflicted EP systems to date. Given the relatively simple and robust design of the HPT technology (no grids neither cathodes), the HIPATIA Project has the potential for providing a cost-effective solution for large constellation of small satellites (<500 kg, <750W of power for EP).
    The impacts associated to have a disruptive thruster in high TRLs would not be achieved unless the complete EP System has proven its integration and operation consistency. HIPATIA will advance the development status of the HPT up to TRL6-7, but it will also face the integration challenges of a complete EP System, constituted by the HPT Thruster Unit, the Radiofrequency and power Unit that feeds it with power and the Propellant Flow Control Unit that controls the pressure and mass flow. The System will be integrated and verified against the requirements derived from the market needs. Development activities will be complemented with research and experimental task, in order to propose design actions to improve the HPT performances.
    The Consortium, constituted by SENER, UC3M, ADS, CNRS and AST, brings to HIPATIA a solid background in the development, integration and test of Electric Propulsion Systems to successfully achieve the defined Project goal.