CHEOPS Consortium for  Hall Effect Orbital Propulsion System) is a challenging space project that has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement n. 730135.

CHEOPS proposes to develop three different Hall Effect Thruster (HET) Electric Propulsion Systems (EPS), with different application fields or orbits:

  • a low power for Low Earth Orbit (LEO) applications. In this orbit, all satellites for Earth Observation (environmental monitoring, maritime surveillance and many other services involved in human activities) are positioned, as well as the International Space Station (ISS);
  • a dual mode EPS for GEO applications, mostly used for commercial communications satellites, broadcast satellites and for weather and meteorological satellites,
  • a >20 kW high thrust EPS for exploration applications.

The satellite market is facing a deep revolution. Industrial forecasts highlight that 50% of commercial telecommunications satellites will be all-electric by 2020.  The advantage of an electric propulsion satellite lays down in the possibility to be lighter of the traditional chemical propulsion satellite. Then the saved weight can be used in order to lower the total cost of the satellite or to embark more payloads.. Therefore each of the proposed HETs are to be developed according to market needs and drivers applying incremental technology changes to existing EPS products.

Moreover, the CHEOPS project is researching, among other common transverse activities, on alternative propellants and the ability to estimate the system lifetime .

The CHEOPS Consortium is led by Safran Aircraft Engines and is comprised of representatives of the biggest European Prime satellite makers (Airbus Defence and SpaceOHB SystemThales Alenia Space), the full EPS supply chain (Advanced Space TechnologiesBradford EngineeringDeutsches Zentrum fuer Luft – und Raumfahrt (DLR)SITAEL) and supported by academia and research centres (Centre National de la Recherche ScientifiqueChalmers Technology UniversitySME4SPACE, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid).

CHEOPS project has been proposed in line with the H2020 Strategic Research Cluster (SRC) Roadmap for “In-space Electrical Propulsion and Station-Keeping” prepared by the Programm Support Action (PSA) EPIC.

There are indeed different possible solutions for developing EPS, therefore the CHEOPS Hall Effect Thruster Electric Propulsion Systems are developed in competition with other two incremental SRC Operational Grants under the H2020 call (COMPET-3-2016-a):

  1. HEMPT-NG (High Efficiency Multistage Plasma Thruster – Next Generation);
  2. GIESEPP (Gridded Ion Engine Standardised Electric Propulsion Platforms).

Under the same H2020 call (COMPET-3-2016-b) other three proposals were selected as Disruptive Technologies:

  1. GaNOMIC (GaN in One Module Integrated Converter for EP systems);
  2. HiperLoc-EP (High Performance Low Cost Electric Propulsion for small satellites);
  3. MINOTOR (MagnetIc NOzzle thruster with elecTron cyclOtron Resonance).

In coming H2020 calls, the European Commission will asks for further developements in order to let the proponent Consortia to space qualify their product within 2023.

In order to understand how a Hall Effect Thruster works, we suggest you to have a look at the following video.

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