Matra Marconi Space (MMS) has test-fired the UK-10 ion thruster in a newly commissioned chamber at the company's Portsmouth factory, marking a new milestone in a five-year MMS development programme. This will culminate in the flight of two similar thrusters on the European Space Agency's (ESA) Artemis satellite.

The 18mN (0.064oz)-thrust MMS is one of several versions of the UK-10, developed by the former UK Atomic Energy Authority (now AEA Technology), with the Royal Aircraft Establishment (now called the DRA).

MMS is responsible for the commercial exploitation of the thruster.

Other versions of the thruster include the UK-25, a nominal 200mN engine which could be fitted to a future ESA interplanetary mission (Flight International, 18-24 September). The MMS thruster works by expelling high velocity beams of xenon gas, ionised by electricity.

Source: Flight International