Military Review

"From anti-satellite weapons of the Russian Federation and China": the US wants to equip military satellites with plasma engines


It became known that the Pentagon decided to include a company engaged in development in the field of innovative engine building to work on the development of a military satellite constellation. We are talking about the company OST (Orbion Space Technology) from the state of Michigan, which offers to equip the satellites with plasma power plants capable of providing high maneuverability in orbit.

The main question: why did the Pentagon become interested in the issue of increasing the maneuverability of satellites in outer space? In the structures of the US Air Force, answering this question, they say that modern engines could allow satellites to avoid defeat with the possible use of anti-satellite weapons Russia and China. In other words, the Pentagon expects that the satellites will have time to leave the attack zone thanks precisely to plasma engines.

Usually satellites maneuver on the basis of liquid fuel engines, which increases the mass of the object, increases its dimensions - makes it a "good target". OST works with engines that use an electromagnetic field to create plasma.
A new generation of plasma engines allows significant compactness.

Using an electromagnetic field, a highly ionized gas is created, which is plasma. With its help, the engine can provide directional movement in a vacuum with the necessary impulse.

OST CEO Brad King said the company is conducting research on the possibility of using compact plasma engines on satellites to provide high maneuverability with effective braking in outer space.

At the same time, the United States makes it clear that they take into account the Soviet experience in this regard. In particular, it tells about the Soviet space program "Probe", which launched in 1964 year. The probe-2 spacecraft contained a peculiar experimental version of the engine, which today is classified as a plasma one.

Lieutenant General David Thompson, deputy head of the U.S. Air Force space command, on the work on using new-generation plasma (Hall) engines for satellites:

We are creating opportunities to protect our space systems.

It is stated that the US military is investing in such protection against the backdrop of "strengthening the anti-satellite capabilities of Russia and China."

Today, the Israeli VENµS satellite with a new-generation Hall engine is operating in orbit.

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    1. Lexus
      Lexus 5 December 2019 15: 57
      I even know where the technology will trample ... Roscartography should help "fuel" - the correct maps of Alaska and Hawaii. Dmitry Olegovich, put the trampolines aside again!
      1. Mavrikiy
        Mavrikiy 5 December 2019 17: 39
        The Pentagon expects that the satellites will have time to leave the attack zone thanks precisely to plasma engines.
        Rave. Plasma engines (PD) are low-power, even if the satellite’s mass decreases, the engine will need to be turned on a thousand times to have the effect of movement, and this time. What a drape? PD for the correction of maneuvers or for long-term acceleration in orbit.
        1. Aviator_
          Aviator_ 5 December 2019 19: 39
          PD can be used only for the orientation system, which was shown in the USSR at one time. See the results of flight tests of the Yantar flying laboratory, which flew from 1968 to 1971.
  2. Magic archer
    Magic archer 5 December 2019 15: 41
    Generally surprising space. What was created once is still not repeated. In the West, such as flying to the moon, so do we, the same plasma engine. But the Jews were able, you look.
    1. vanavatny
      vanavatny 5 December 2019 15: 54
      their work with high-tech startups is set up in such a way that in terms of scientific and technological progress in the top five, if not top three, there are former Soviet professors of world renown who are sincerely willing to share this experience and trying to do it, but our leadership put on this experience , you give irresponsible giants like Rosonano, the result is a face, we are still in the first hundred in the sense of discoveries and it’s not known where in the sense of bringing them to life — it’s simple there: invented, made it into production ... I'm not sure about the numbers, but there the amount earned, from scratch, and in a short time no less than the proceeds of Gazprom, but there is no Chubais ...
    2. knn54
      knn54 5 December 2019 16: 05
      At the beginning of the 100st century, the Kaliningrad SPD-1 (Fakel Design Bureau) was successfully tested on the lunar satellite of the European Space Agency Smart-XNUMX.
  3. Thrifty
    Thrifty 5 December 2019 15: 46
    It's simple, plasma engines, or low-thrust engines, are able to work continuously as long as there is a working fluid on board the satellite, which will be brought to this state of aggregation! Such engines can actually not be a switch in space, but only reduce the volume of fuel used to create thrust (so to speak, screw on the valve)! Therefore, such engines quickly fill the required operating mode for transferring a satellite to another orbit, or for other maneuvers in space. Ion engines also belong to such engines, but plasma ones "turn on" faster, and give higher thrust.
  4. Operator
    Operator 5 December 2019 15: 53
    How can a near-zero thrust electric engine protect a satellite from an anti-satellite missile, especially an air-based type on the MiG-31D, which absolutely doesn’t care about the angle of inclination of the satellite’s orbit?

    On the contrary, in an endangered period, an attempt to begin changing the orbit at a snail's pace will give the enemy the priority to shoot down that particular satellite.

    The new budget cut, however laughing
    1. Thrifty
      Thrifty 5 December 2019 15: 59
      The operator is the same technology! Now satellites with DMT (small thrust engines) fly in space, but the same plasma engine, only with atomic energy installation, can give thrust suitable for long-range interplanetary flights! After all, its advantage is a very long time of continuous work!
      1. Operator
        Operator 5 December 2019 16: 09
        What is the relationship between anti-satellite weapon protection and interplanetary flights?

        And where does the nuclear power plant, which is an order of magnitude larger in mass than liquid thruster RDs, not to mention the electroplasma RDs of microscopic thrust?
        1. Polite Moose
          Polite Moose 5 December 2019 16: 23
          Quote: Operator
          What is the relationship between anti-satellite weapon protection and interplanetary flights?

          And where does the nuclear power plant, which is an order of magnitude larger in mass than liquid thruster RDs, not to mention the electroplasma RDs of microscopic thrust?

          And now, guys, let's all call Gridasov together!
        2. Thrifty
          Thrifty 5 December 2019 16: 41
          The ability not just to maneuver, but to maneuver quickly, change the orbit instantly, and not wait for the engine to "pick up speed." And liquid-propellant engines are much more voracious than a low-thrust engine.
    2. Boa kaa
      Boa kaa 5 December 2019 19: 56
      Quote: Operator
      to protect a satellite from an anti-satellite missile, especially an air-based type on the MiG-31D, which absolutely does not care about the angle of inclination of the satellite’s orbit?
      God bless him, with the "tilt", the "orbit height" of the satellite is important. Well, up to 280 km "Contact" will be able to hit the enemy, but higher?
      Maybe the new PAK DP (MiG-41 - conditionally), which has been developed since 2013, will be able to cross the 300km line ...
      1. Operator
        Operator 5 December 2019 20: 09
        To take a low-orbit satellite into high orbit means to take it out of work with our own hands - we can save on an anti-satellite rocket laughing
        1. Boa kaa
          Boa kaa 5 December 2019 20: 17
          Quote: Operator
          we can save on an anti-satellite missile

          Andrew! The "low-biters" are going to burn their brains out completely! from the ground ... Therefore, our satellites - "inspectors" do not deal with them. This is to say that Anti-AES missiles .... on satellites in high orbits? Oh well...
          1. Operator
            Operator 5 December 2019 20: 43
            But what, it is necessary to burn out the brains - to smash a satellite into chips with an anti-satellite missile is no longer comme il faut? laughing

            First, so far there is nothing to "burn out the brains" - high-frequency radiation is not concentrated like a laser.
            Secondly, it will not be possible to make holes in satellites with a laser either - weather conditions (clouds) interfere with the ground-based Peresvet, and the installation of Peresvet equipment with a nuclear reactor on the Il-76 is not planned due to the catastrophic consequences of an aircraft accident.
            Therefore, the MiG-31D against low-orbit satellites is very cheap and effective.

            And most importantly, any weaponry (reconnaissance, communications, navigation, anti-missile, strike) placed in near-earth orbit is similar in degree of protection to bare in a bathhouse, trying to defend itself against AK using a bathtub gang.

            So far, nothing better than basing weapons on the surface of the Earth (in terms of combat stability, cheapness and reliability) has not yet been invented. And at the moment, suborbital missiles of the Sarmat type or cruise missiles with nuclear power plants of the Burevestnik type can reach any point on the Earth directly from their home base.

            Therefore, the flag in our hands and a drum on the neck of our partners planning a second time to step on the rake bully
            1. shinobi
              shinobi 6 December 2019 01: 27
              The solution to the fight against satellite constellations, meaning the orbital genocide of everything and everything, was proposed at the dawn of the first SOI. Metal fraction is spilled onto the orbit. For 5-8 years after that, nothing will fly there at all until the self-cleaning process passes. , masers, rockets, this is when you need to finish off a single target.
              1. Operator
                Operator 6 December 2019 10: 05
                Would you at least once count the number of fractions to disable low-orbit satellites and, especially, the number of LV launches to bring that fraction into space, and rotate towards the satellites laughing

                EMR, neutrons and X-ray from nuclear warbones in wartime - fast, cheap and cheerful. And the MiG-31D is for targeted actions in peacetime.
                1. shinobi
                  shinobi 6 December 2019 12: 44
                  Do you think that fools are sitting in our design bureaus and research institutes? This concept has long been successfully used in our anti-aircraft missiles, where a charge of such a "shot" is fired at the object's course. This is the first thing. Do you even imagine how much 1 ton of 9-10mm shot is? For guaranteed destruction of an unarmored space object on a collision course on the first space or close to it, 1 or 2 hits are enough. Never thought why the stations launched to comets were dressed in titanium-aluminum armor, which was quite serious (for the probe)? For you, as a lover of super-duper weapons. For complete and guaranteed removal of everything that hangs in space, flies on GPS, generally has antennas, unprotected wires, at least 1 transistor uncovered by a steel casing , it is required to detonate several nuclear charges of megaton power in the ionosphere. And on the ground and in space above this place, all semiconductor electronics will burn out, and ordinary power grids will serious damage was inflicted. In order to inflict the same guaranteed critical damage to the USA, it is not even necessary to directly destroy infrastructure facilities. It is enough to short-circuit the power grids. As an example of the blackout in the USA on August 14, 2003, 55 million injured in varying degrees, 100 dead, 6 billion dollars in damage .14 ​​days to recover. But there was only a protection operation due to a short circuit at the peak of electricity consumption.
  5. voyaka uh
    voyaka uh 5 December 2019 16: 04
    StarLink Mask project satellites are equipped with
    ion engines. Is it plasma or something else?
    1. Kirill Dou
      Kirill Dou 5 December 2019 16: 21
      Ion and plasma engines are 2 types of electrostatic engine. Sometimes, in the media, the term "plasma engine" is applied to any electrostatic engine at all.
      1. Thrifty
        Thrifty 5 December 2019 16: 37
        Cyril, but such a comparison is incorrect, because the ion engine at the level that we know in terms of technology cannot give great thrust, and is unsuitable for interplanetary flights.
    2. Thrifty
      Thrifty 5 December 2019 16: 34
      A warrior, this is not plasma, it is also an engine of low thrust, which is suitable for changing orbits very quickly, because it works virtually continuously.
      1. voyaka uh
        voyaka uh 5 December 2019 17: 09
        Mask Falcon-9 throws 60 satellites to an altitude of about 280 km, and then they under their own power, on these ion engines rise to working orbits about 350 km.
        And further. SpaceX is being run over that they will litter the entire space with thousands of their satellites (planned to withdraw 12,000 units "to begin with"). And they kick out that, they say, as soon as the satellite fails, it is immediately lowered down to burn down guaranteed.
        That is, there will be no dead satellites.
        1. Thrifty
          Thrifty 5 December 2019 17: 14
          Alexei, until a satellite in orbit collapses from a collision with a debris, or other space debris, it is not dangerous, at least a century can fly depending on the orbit. But, debris in space is so abundant, so the surest option is that the satellite went out of order, burn it in dense layers of the atmosphere!
          1. voyaka uh
            voyaka uh 5 December 2019 17: 20
            This is now no problem when no more than 2 - 2.5 thousand satellites hang out in different orbits at the same time.
            But the situation will change dramatically. Private traders are going to launch tens of thousands of satellites in a few years. Global internet.
            Stars will be poorly visible, they will be confused with satellites.
            And, although these are small satellites, they have hefty folding solar panels 10 times larger than the hull.
            1. Thrifty
              Thrifty 5 December 2019 17: 29
              Alexei, the layman has long been confusing satellites hanging in geostationary orbit for a long time with stars. And taking into account the creation and mass, in the coming years, of film-type solar cells, and solar power plants will probably also try to create, indeed, stars can only be seen in places and at times. Someone from the philosophers said that if the stars on our planet could be seen only in one place, humanity would get to this place in a continuous stream. ..
            2. MoJloT
              MoJloT 6 December 2019 12: 20
              But the situation will change dramatically. Private traders are going to launch tens of thousands of satellites in a few years.
              About 5 years already, in my memory, tens of thousands of satellites are going to launch every year, and not only Musk, but many who, but from 19:48 on 04.10.1957/1500/XNUMX to this day, there are only about XNUMX satellites in orbit.
              1. voyaka uh
                voyaka uh 6 December 2019 12: 24
                "Moscow was not built in a day" laughing
                So far, Musk has successfully launched two "trains" of 60 satellites.
                for their StarLink system.
                They are now testing the health of the network, checking the calculations.
                And then there will be massive frequent launches of reusable "dump trucks" - Falconov-9
  6. Mountain shooter
    Mountain shooter 5 December 2019 16: 33
    Plasma motors are produced in Russia, the company is called "Fakel". These engines are bought by the French. The Americans apparently have their own, but I don't know about them. Their cravings are small. You can't move a satellite quickly. And if from the ground with a laser? Meow won't have time to say.
  7. Justme
    Justme 5 December 2019 16: 54
    The history of plasma-ion engines is somewhat different.
    For Americans, the initial movement was in the direction of SERT-II.
    In their initial approach there were a few blunders -1) the working fluid is mercury (this is the clogging of solar panels), 2) the peculiarity of the idea is the reverse ion flow - this is erosion of the structure and low resource.
    Our approach is Hall engines (an idea borrowed from tokamak plasma injectors), developed from the beginning of the 70s at the Fakel Design Bureau.
    The R&D work scheme is idiotic, the R&D in the Fakel Design Bureau itself was weak and in fact they did not want to do it. In order to have the results, the Fakel Design Bureau hired one of the departments of the KhAI (Ukraine).
    Not surprisingly, all the ideas that had been worked out could then be bought very cheaply.
    I was in Ukraine in the early 2000s and saw how the sale was going.
    Additionally, the management of OKB Fakel was in the States and offered their products.
    In fact, there wasn’t much know-how in these engines.
    It is now known that in NASA these engines are promoted by our former compatriots.
  8. rocket757
    rocket757 5 December 2019 18: 44
    Something like this is to be expected. New technologies, new \ old principles are used in a new way!
    not right tomorrow, but it will happen!
  9. shinobi
    shinobi 6 December 2019 01: 17
    It’s like, but wasn’t it too late to realize? On our satellites, plasma torches are quite an ordinary detail. Especially on long-term objects. Even the plant for their production was shown in the news. Compared to ordinary rail, they are cheaper and easier to operate. joke boasting of the Yankees?
    1. slipped
      slipped 6 December 2019 05: 20
      Quote: shinobi
      What is the catch of the Yankees boasting?

      The fact that you have confused attitude control engines for cruising. They are different in terms of traction and operating time. Although, as far as "Probe-2" is concerned, there was an ablative pulsed plasma thruster with electrothermal plasma acceleration just like the DPO thruster. As an experiment, so to speak. But now we have almost ready a new generation - electrodeless plasma thrusters, they can work much longer in time.
  10. slipped
    slipped 6 December 2019 05: 10
    operation of stationary plasma engines on an Egyptian Russian-made scout starting from the first minute:

  11. Operator
    Operator 6 December 2019 13: 24
    Quote: shinobi
    Can you imagine how much it is 1 ton of 9-10mm fraction?

    In fig, lift 1 (one) ton of fraction into orbit, when you can raise 20 (twenty) times less (interceptor) - for show-offs? laughing

    And then - the satellites do not fly in a heap, so the fraction raised into orbit and knocking down one (1) satellite will remain hanging on the site of the former satellite until it leaves the orbit in a natural way.