Space Propulsion conference will chart industry’s future trajectory

Space Propulsion 2010
14 April 2010

Space propulsion, an indispensable driver for the space industry, will be the focus of an international conference next month to prepare for the future.

The entire space industry is based on Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion: ‘For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction’.

This law is expressed most fundamentally through rockets: full-fledged launchers open the door to orbit, while their smaller-scale equivalents, onboard thrusters, make it possible to navigate through space. Without propulsion technology nothing goes anywhere - so this event is a timely examination of a vital topic.

The Space Propulsion 2010 conference takes place in the port city of San Sebastian on Spain’s Bay of Biscay from 3 to 6 May. Following on from the positive response to an inaugural 2008 workshop in Crete the conference is being introduced on a regular two-year basis.

Ariane 5 ECA V184 climbout
Propulsion is indispensable to space

“Unlike comparable events, this conference brings together the launcher and spacecraft propulsion communities,” said Giorgio Saccoccia, ESA’s Head of Propulsion and Aerothermodynamics, co-organiser of the conference with Pierre-Guy Amand of SNPE and conference secretary Lisa Gabaldi of L'Association Aéronautique et Astronautique de France (3AF). “These domains are normally kept separate, but there is a lot of potential for cross-fertilisation between them.”

Co-organised by ESA and 3AF in collaboration with national European space agencies, Space Propulsion 2010 will be a venue not just for technical information exchange but also debates on propulsion policy.

The first day of the conference will be a plenary session with participants including ESA Director-General Jean-Jacques Dordain, 3AF President Michel Scheller, ESA Director of Technical Quality Management Michel Courtois and ESA Director of Launchers Antonio Fabrizi, as well as high-level representatives from national space agencies, European governments and the worldwide propulsion industry.

“We are on the verge of major decisions for the space industry,” added Mr Saccoccia. “New goals in exploration will require different types of propulsion systems to make them happen. The conference will serve to showcase the many new technologies and developments that decision makers can count on in this area.”

GOCE launch
GOCE launch

The conference will include a large exhibition section for space agencies and industry to display new propulsion systems and R&D concepts.

ESA’s stand will highlight its own current propulsion activities. These include solid propulsion activities for Ariane 5 and Vega, the RCS (Reaction Control System) propulsion sub-system for IXV (Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle) re-entry testing, the High Thrust Engine Demonstrator preparing technologies for Europe’s Next Generation Launcher, ion engines for long-duration space missions and micro-thrusters enabling precision satellite control and formation flying.

Technical and programmatic issues will be debated to support the preparation of future activities and roadmaps in all fields of space transportation. Sessions will also cover lessons learned from operating missions with novel propulsion systems such as GOCE and ATV.

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