French Aerospace Giant Safran Joins Forces with Terran Orbital to Manufacture U.S.-Based Satellite Propulsion

10 Jul 2023

Terran Orbital, a company specializing in satellite manufacturing, has entered into a partnership with Safran, a renowned French aerospace company, to delve into the possibility of producing satellite propulsion systems within the U.S. 

According to the BIS Research report, the global satellite electric propulsion market is estimated to reach $1.02 billion in 2032 from $0.52 billion in 2021, at a growth rate of 4.10% during the forecast period (2022-2032). 

This agreement between Safran and Terran Orbital was announced on 23rd June 2023.  It entails joint efforts by Safran Electronics & Defense and Terran Orbital to explore potential avenues and necessary conditions for manufacturing electric propulsion systems designed for satellites, utilizing Safran's PPSX00 plasma thruster technology.

MoU Stating Major Elevation in Satellite Propulsion Market
Safran Electronics & Defense, in collaboration with Safran Spacecraft Propulsion and Terran Orbital, embarked on a comprehensive evaluation process to identify the technical, industrial, and economic prerequisites for establishing a new production line for electric propulsion systems in the U.S. in 2023.

This assessment specifically considers the suitability of a Terran Orbital facility located in Irvine, California, which is known for the production of microsatellites. 

The establishment of this local production line would not only provide the American space industry with a domestic supply of satellite thrusters, boosting the economy and generating employment opportunities, but it would also align with Safran's production facilities in France, effectively doubling the company's global production capacity.

The demand for improved spacecraft maneuverability to avoid collisions and the implementation of systems to deorbit low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites at the end of their operational lifespan further accentuates the significance of this endeavor.

Words of the Experts
Jean-Marie Bétermier, Safran Electronics & Defense's senior vice president for space, emphasized that “creating reliable and eco-friendly satellite propulsion systems is a crucial global task due to stricter international regulations demanding enhanced sustainability and resilience in spacecraft, particularly for the requirements of low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites.”

Marc Bell, Chairman and CEO of Terran Orbital, expressed that “the company chose to collaborate with Safran due to its extensive experience in space missions. Safran, a major European defense contractor, aims to manufacture their components within the United States.”

Developing highly efficient and eco-friendly satellite propulsion systems is a substantial worldwide endeavor, considering the increasing global regulations that require improved sustainability and longevity in space vehicles. 

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