Russia Tests First Krypton-Based Plasma Rocket Engine
The Russian state company Roscosmos reported that an SPD-70M plasma rocket motor that uses krypton gas as an alternative to xenon was tested for the first time.
The new SPD-70M plasma rocket motor using krypton has a power range of 300 to 1,200 watts. It was tested by the Fakel Experimental Design Office, and as a result, the propulsion system showed stable operation and reliable launch parameters.
The engine worked well with xenon, but the significant increase in the price of this gas last year forced us to resort to other propellant options. Switching from xenon to krypton promises a five to 10 times lower ‘fuel’ cost for satellites.
In particular, the engine will be used for the aircraft of the Sfera project, the number of which will reach several hundred in orbit. Roscosmos noted that the engine fully meets the requirements for the project’s spacecraft.
The Russian federal Sfera project includes orbital communications constellations, and Earth orbital remote sensing constellations. The project’s first test satellite was launched in October 2022.