Design review for mechanism to be delivered to Maxar for NASA's Gateway

World’s largest electric propulsion pointing mechanism will enable Aerojet AEPS Thrusters on the Maxar-built Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) of NASA’s lunar space station.

The Gateway space station, an essential element of NASA’s Artemis program, will serve as humanity’s first space station in lunar orbit supporting crewed and uncrewed missions to the surface of the Moon and future deep space exploration missions. NASA contracted Maxar, a provider of comprehensive space solutions and secure, precise, geospatial intelligence, to manufacture the PPE, which will provide Gateway with power and propulsion for maneuvers around the Moon and to transit between different orbits, and high-rate communications.

Enabling technology for PPE

Maxar ordered a pointing mechanism from Beyond Gravity (formerly RUAG Space) in 2019. This component provides the capability to steer or move the electric propulsion thrusters for maneuvering, orbit adjustments, and performing cislunar transfers during the life of the Gateway. “This is an enabling technology for PPE, which will be the most powerful solar electric propulsion spacecraft ever flown,” says Anders Linder, Executive Vice President Division Satellites at Beyond Gravity. Beyond Gravity completed the component’s critical design review with Maxar in early 2022 as an important milestone toward delivery to Maxar’s manufacturing facility in Palo Alto, California.

“We will provide the world’s largest electric propulsion pointing mechanism tailor-made for PPE’s main high-power thrusters. The mechanism is closely derived from our family of modular, different-sized electric propulsion pointing mechanisms,” says Anders Linder.

Modular mechanism

Beyond Gravity has more than 20 years of heritage building pointing mechanisms specifically for electric propulsion systems and supplies 2-axis and 3-axis mechanisms for different missions. “Our mechanisms are modular and adaptable to different requirements and thrusters. That is one of the biggest advantages to our customers,” says Andreas Derntl, Sales Manager in Vienna, where the mechanism is being designed and produced.

About Beyond Gravity

Beyond Gravity (formerly RUAG Space), headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, is the first space company to combine a startup mindset, agility, speed and innovation with decades of experience and proven quality. Approximately 1600 employees at 12 locations in six countries (Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, Germany, USA and Finland) develop and manufacture products for satellites and launch vehicles with the goal of advancing humankind and enabling the exploration of the world and beyond. Beyond Gravity is the preferred supplier of structures for all types of launch vehicles and a leader in selected satellite products and for constellations in the New Space sector. In 2021, the company generated a revenue of around CHF 319 million. More information at: www.beyondgravity.com


More about the Gateway: https://www.nasa.gov/gateway



An artist’s conception shows Gateway’s Power and Propulsion Element with its solar electric propulsion system in action. (Credit: Maxar). Download 


Media contacts Beyond Gravity:

Philipp Bircher, VP Communication
Email: philipp.bircher@beyondgravity.com
Telephone: +41 79 790 11 81

Christian Thalmayr, Senior Manager Global Communication
Email: christian.thalmayr@beyondgravity.com
Telephone: +43 1 801 99 2165