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Solar Electric Propulsion


Aerojet Rocketdyne, an L3Harris Technologies company, is the world leader in the development, qualification and flight of electric propulsion systems that enable civil, defense and commercial missions for various customers. We have delivered more than 600 electric propulsion thrusters that have flown on over 250 satellites to date.

Benefits of SEP

  • Lower launch mass from carrying less propellant enables reduced launch cost
  • Reduced propellant mass enables additional payload capacity
  • Extended satellite maneuvering and mission lifetimes with the same quantity of propellant

Enabling Deep Space Human Missions

In addition to satellite operations, SEP systems are key to enabling future crewed deep space missions. Aerojet Rocketdyne is developing advanced electric propulsion systems that will enable humans to go back to the Moon and on to Mars. SEP will play a critical role in the efficient transfer of cargo and payloads to deep space ahead of crew arrival.

Current SEP Products

  • XR-5: The flight proven XR-5 Hall thruster subsystem is currently employed on both commercial and government satellites, including the U.S. Space Force’s Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) constellation; Northrop Grumman’s GEOStar-3™ GEO commercial satellites and Mission Extension Vehicles; and Lockheed Martin’s LM2100™ commercial satellites.
  • AEPS: Developed with NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC) and Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS) thruster completed development testing in 2021 and began qualification testing at NASA Glenn in 2023. AEPS operates at 12 kW – more than twice the power level of electric thrusters flying on satellites today. Three AEPS thrusters will serve as the primary source of propulsion on the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) for NASA’s international lunar Gateway to enable orbit transfer and in-space maneuvering.
  • NEXT-C: NEXT-C is a next-generation solar electric propulsion system designed and built by Aerojet Rocketdyne based on mission-proven technology developed at NASA’s GRC. The 7kW NEXT-C Ion System made its debut on NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission, which launched in 2021. The NEXT-C system served as a technology demonstration on the spacecraft during DART's successful mission. 
  • XR-100: Along with teammates JPL, ZIN Technologies Inc. and the University of Michigan, Aerojet Rocketdyne developed and tested a 100kW Nested Hall Thruster system, including a power processing unit and xenon feed system for the XR-100 program (under NASA’s NextSTEP program).
  • MR-510 Arcjets: Aerojet Rocketdyne arcjet engines have an arc of energy running through the hydrazine propellant, heating and speeding it up to create thrust and increase the specific impulse from about 220s to 585s. Arcjets have flown on over 55 spacecraft and are currently employed on Lockheed Martin LM2100™ and Boeing 702MP satellite buses.
  • MR-502 IMPEHT: Aerojet Rocketdyne Improved Electrothermal Hydrazine Thrusters (IMPEHT) enhance the specific impulse performance of hydrazine thrusters by pushing electrical power through a resistive element. This enables a simple hydrazine propulsion system to deliver both bipropellant-level performance and monopropulsion performance from a single “multi-mode” system. IMPEHTs have successfully flown on over 200 satellites, including Northrop Grumman GEOStar-2™ satellites, Lockheed Martin Series 3000 and 4000 satellites, and all satellites in the original Iridium constellation.


  • AEPS Data Sheet

    AEPS Data Sheet

Featured News

Aerojet Rocketdyne, an L3Harris Company

Press release | 07. 28. 2023

L3Harris Completes Aerojet Rocketdyne Acquisition

L3Harris Technologies has completed its acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne, forming a fourth business segment at the company.

Aerojet Rocketdyne, an L3Harris Company

Press release | 07. 28. 2023

L3Harris Completes Aerojet Rocketdyne Acquisition

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