Analysis of characteristics of electric propulsion systems intended for carrying out maneuvers of maintenance of low Earth working orbit of small satellites

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An analysis of the mass of the working fluid and motor operating time of electric propulsion systems applied as a part of small spacecraft to carry out maneuvers of maintenance of the low Earth working orbit is carried out. The analysis is carried out for the small spacecraft with the weight in the range from 300 to 1000 kg functioning in working orbits with the height in the range from 400 to 600 km. When carrying out the analysis the values of the specific impulse of the propulsion system in the range from 800 to 1600 sec were accepted. Procedural guidelines for assessing the value of the required characteristic speed depending on the aerodynamic drag force, as well as for assessing the value of mass of the working fluid with account for the value of the specific impulse and defining the motor operating time of the propulsion system depending on the exhaust speed of the working fluid were used. The results of calculations given in the article show that the mass of the working fluid and the motor operating time vary depending on the height of the orbit and the mass of the small spacecraft and allow making quick preliminary assessment of the main design characteristics of the electric propulsion engines used to carry out maneuvers of maintenance of the low Earth working orbit of small spacecraft with different weight dimension characteristics during the prescribed term of active existence.

About the authors

V. V. Salmin

Samara National Research University

Author for correspondence.

Doctor of Science (Engineering), Professor, Director of Scientific Research Institute of Space Mechanical Engineering

Russian Federation

V. V. Volotsuev

Samara National Research University


Candidate of Science (Engineering), Associate Professor of Space Mechanical Engineering named after General Designer D.I. Kozlov

Russian Federation

A. V. Nikitin

Joint Stock Company Space Rocket Centre Progress; Samara National Research University


Leading Design Engineer; Postgraduate Student

Russian Federation


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