Boeing is on track to launch the world’s first all-electric satellites by early 2015, as a part of an agreement with Asia Broadcast Satellite and Eutelsat, the company announced today.
The company completed static qualification testing, verification and assembly of the primary structures for two 702SP communication satellites, meaning the satellites are well on their way to launch. The 702SP communications satellites will launch in pairs, and once in orbit, they will be entirely powered and propelled by electricity, rather than relying on rockets.
While it’s possible for Boeing to go without rocket engines in orbit, actually getting the satellites into space is another matter, of course. In order to make it into orbit, the satellites will have to be launched as the payload of a traditional rocket. They’re built to work with several popular rocket models, including Boeing’s Delta IV, and SpaceX’s Falcon 9.
Using a fully electric propulsion system means that the 702SP won’t weigh as much at launch, which in turn will lead to fuel savings and cost savings for putting the satellites into space. In addition, the stackable design of the satellites allows them to take up less space, so it’s more affordable for companies to launch several satellites into orbit.