Joint Laboratory
Plasma and Propulsion


Firstly reported! JLPP ionic liquid EP system successfully verified in orbit

 On July 10, 2022, good news came! The ionic liquid integrated electric propulsion system developed by JLPP successfully completed the in-orbit test validation for the first time in the world, and multiple sets of telemetry data effectively verified the continuous micro-thrust of 32.8 μN at the single nozzle of the ionic liquid thruster. The in-orbit test verification has broken through a number of key technologies such as ionic liquid electric propulsion capacitive storage self-neutralization, ionic liquid/thruster/power system integration and micro-N thrust precision measurement, which also reflects the ionic liquid electric propulsion in-orbit environmental adaptation and long-term storage capability of electrospray propellant in space. This mission is also the first time in the world that the self-neutralization work of a single ionic liquid electrospray thruster has been achieved by capacitive power storage and applied to satellite in-orbit missions.

Diagram of the APSCO university student small satellite constellation and the ionic liquid electric propulsion system on board members

The successful in-orbit validation of the ionic-liquid integrated electric propulsion system has gathered more than twenty years of research accumulation in the JLPP laboratory. The research was supported by more than ten related projects including the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) and the Civil Space Pre-Research Program of the Science and Industry Bureau. Throughout the research cycle, the team members worked together to contribute to the smooth development of the Asia-Pacific regional student cooperation, a strength of Beihang, China.

Ionic liquid electric propulsion system integration for China’s development of low-orbit small satellite constellation, military constellations and deep space exploration and other strategic goals have significant application value. ILT-50 ionic liquid electric propulsion system successful in-orbit test verification, breakthrough a number of engineering difficulties, solve a number of theoretical problems, marking the ionic liquid electric propulsion system as a micro-propulsion system in a high-quality program gradually towards maturity, which will have a profound impact on China’s the future development of spaceflight has a profound impact.

“Our goal is to go to deep space” – all members of JLPP will definitely work harder to write the thesis on the motherland and paint the results in the starry sea.

Article: Ruojian Pan

Photo: Kunlong Wu