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IPFS News Link • Communications

First satellites with all-electric propulsion call home

•, By David Szondy

Boeing announced that the two 702SP small platform satellites, called ABS-3A and EUTELSAT 115 West B, that launched on Sunday evening are sending back signals to mission control as they power towards geosynchronous orbit under ion drive

According to Boeing, the 702SPs were developed in less than three years and are designed for light weight and affordability. ABS-3A, which belongs to Bermuda-based ABS, will be stationed at 3° West longitude and will provide communications to the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Ocean regions. EUTELSAT 115 West B under EUTELSAT headquartered in Paris will sit at 114.9° West longitude and provide data services to Latin America, Canada, and Alaska.

The key technology of the two new geosynchronous comsats is their Xenon Ion Propulsion System (XIPS). Hybrid systems that use a mix of chemical and ion propellants have been sent into orbit before, but this is the first time satellites have been deployed with an all-electric drive.