Spacecraft Propulsion Electric

Artificial satellites are first launched into the desired altitude by conventional liquid/solid propelled rockets after which the satellite may use onboard propulsion systems for orbital stationkeeping. Once in the desired orbit, they often need some form of attitude control so that they are correctly pointed with respect to the Earth, the Sun, and possibly some astronomical object of interest. They are also subject to drag from the thin atmosphere, so that to stay in orbit for a long period of time some form of propulsion is occasionally necessary to make small corrections (orbital station-keeping). Many satellites need to be moved from one orbit to another from time to time, and this also requires propulsion. A satellite’s useful life is usually over once it has exhausted its ability to adjust its orbit.