Space weather concerns for all‐electric propulsion satellites

The introduction of all-electric propulsion satellites is a game-changer in the quest for low-cost access to space. It also raises new questions for satellite manufacturers, operators and the insurance industry regarding the general risks and specifically the threat of adverse space weather. The issues surrounding this new concept were discussed by research scientists and up to 30 representatives from the space industry at a special meeting at the European Space Weather Week held in November 2014. Here we report on the discussions at that meeting. We show that for a satellite undergoing electric orbit raising for 200 days the radiation dose due to electrons is equivalent to approximately 6.7 years operation at geostationary orbit, or approximately half the typical design life. We also show that electrons can be injected into the slot region (8,000 km) where they pose a risk of satellite internal charging. The results highlight the importance of additional radiation protection. We also discuss the benefits, the operational considerations, the other risks from the Van Allen radiation belts, the new business opportunities for space insurance, and the need for space situation awareness in medium Earth orbit where electric orbit raising takes place

Details

Publication status:
Published
Author(s):
Authors: Horne, Richard B. ORCIDORCID record for Richard B. Horne, Pitchford, David

On this site: Richard Horne
Date:
10 August, 2015
Journal/Source:
Space Weather / 13
Page(s):
430-433
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
https://doi.org/10.1002/2015SW001198