Boeing's all-electric propulsion satellite begins operation

The world's first all-electric propulsion satellite, built by Boeing, has officially entered operations, the company has revealed. The ABS-3A 702SP (small platform) satellite, first launched into space back in March, serves as a telecommunications satellite and was given to its owners on August 31st. Boeing built the satellite for ABS, a telecommunications company in Bermuda, which says it will be used to provide service to North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Sent into orbit in March on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the ABS-3A became the first all-electric propulsion satellite to be built and launched into space. It is powered by a Xenon Ion Propulsion System (XIPS). This differs from previous hybrid satellites that have used a mixture of chemical and ion propellants.

Xenon is an inert, non-hazardous element, and Boeing explains that it will allow the spacecraft to continue operations well beyond its standard 15-year lifespan. The ABS-3A relies on four 25-centimeter thrusters that only use 5 kg (11 pounds) of fuel per year, making it ten more efficient than the traditional liquid-fueled rockets.

Boeing notes that they were able to hand over operations of the satellite one month ahead of time. A second satellite, ABS-2A, is scheduled to be launched for ABS in early 2016. Boeing Satellite Systems International president Mark Spiwak adds that the technology behind the 702SP product line provides customers with lower launch costs and lowers the overall costs of operating a satellite.

VIA Gizmag