Industrial gases function as Thrust Propellants
The noble work of industrial gases
To keep or shift their orbits, satellites require frequent repositioning. After initial launch, satellites and other spacecraft use high-efficiency electric propulsion to reach and maintain desired orbits as well as to de-orbit at end of life use. Xenon and Krypton are currently preferred gases, while Argon may be used in some systems. In addition to supplying propellant-grade gas, Linde provides specialized equipment to load rare gases into the satellite propulsion system.
Rare gases and ion drive thrusters
Solar electric power ionizes the select rare gas to a plasma which is then accelerated to extreme velocities to provide thrust. High efficiency allows a small inventory of gas propellant to last several years, allowing larger active payloads and significantly lower mission costs. The ions are neutralized and then thrust out in a jet. Ion thrusters allow for either a lighter payload or a longer operation time. Satellites used for global communications and sensing will demand large supplies of rare gases for ion drives.