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Europe Eyes Commercial Demo of Electric Propulsion

The European Space Agency will pursue a public-private partnership to develop and demonstrate all-electric propulsion on a commercial communications satellite, answering a call from operators seeking lower launch costs and longer satellite lifetimes.

The decision made by ESA member states on Nov. 21 also responds to Boeing's announcement in March of a satellite platform with all-electric propulsion, a potential game-changer for satellite owners.

The member states agreed on a framework for a public-private partnership between ESA and industry on the Electra program, an initiative to develop a telecommunications satellite bus with fully electric propulsion.

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