Orbital Propulsion Centre, Lampoldshausen, Germany ArianeGroup Home page of the ArianeGroup Orbital Propulsion Centre, Munich, Germany

Radio Frequency
Ion Propulsion


Electric Ion Space Propulsion Systems and Thrusters

Radio frequency ion propulsion for orbit raising, station keeping and deep space missions.



Our electric space propulsion expertise is based on the space proven Radio Frequency Ion Technology (RIT). Within this field, we produce complete propulsion systems, modules, thrusters and related components.



European research into radio-frequency ion propulsion was initially conducted in the 1960's by the University of Giessen, Germany. The Lampoldshausen propulsion centre then joined the development team in 1970 and undertook the industrial leadership for the development of the Radio frequency Ion Thruster Assembly (RITA).


Our first radio-frequency Ion propulsion system was successfully demonstrated aboard ESA's European Retrievable Carrier EURECA, launched by the Space Shuttle Atlantis in 1992.


Ion thrusters from Lampoldshausen have set a number of world records for long duration operation, as well as the recovery of the Artemis satellite from a total loss to full recovery.


Advantages of RIT Technology include:




Integration of ion thruster.
Ion Thruster Integration
RIT2X ion thruster.
Ion Thruster - RIT 2X



Radio frequency ion propulsion flow schematic.
Radio Frequency Ion Propulsion Flow Schematic

Working Principles of RIT Technology

The radio frequency Ion thruster uses a high-frequency electromagnetic field to ionize xenon gas atoms to form a plasma containing free 'light' electrons and 'heavy' positive ions. The heavy positive ions are then accelerated by an electrostatic field before being ejected to cause thrust.


After the ions have been ejected from the thruster, electrons are added from a neutralizer. The plasma is thereby neutralized which prevents the satellite from becoming charged.



Radio Frequency Ion Thruster Family

Our family of ion thrusters provides for a range of diverse space missions with thrust levels from 50 µN through to 205mN. The portfolio comprises a family of three thrusters:


1) RIT μX

The RITμX thruster is the smallest in the range and is optimal for orbital manoeuvres of science mission requiring the highest precision. Thrust levels: 50 - 500 µN.


2) RIT 10 Evo

The RIT 10 Evo thruster is ideal for north south station keeping of GEO, LEO and MEO platforms. Thrust levels: 5mN - 15mN - 25mN.


3) RIT 2X Series

The RIT 2X Series thruster is the largest in the range and offers the best mass saving for an all electric spacecraft. Thrust levels: 80mN - 115mN - 168mN - 205mN.


Radio frequency ion thruster - RITμX
Radio Frequency Ion Thruster 
Radio frequency ion thruster - RIT 10 EVO
Radio Frequency Ion Thruster
RIT 10 Evo
Radio frequency ion thruster - RIT 2X series
Radio Frequency Ion Thruster
RIT 2X Series
Xenon tank module
Xenon Tank


GIESEPP  (Gridded Ion Engine Standardised Electric Propulsion Platform) Consortium

We are partners of the GIESEPP consortium which is supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.


Consortium Partners include the ArianeGroup, QinetiQ, OHB, CRISA / Airbus Defence and Space, AST – Advanced Space Technologies, Mars Space and the University of Southampton.

RIT electric propulsion thruster family performance data
RIT Thruster Family Performance Data


More information:

Artemis recovery video

Electric propulsion video

Background and evolution of the Radio Frequency Ion Propulsion thruster family


For more information on our electric propulsion systems and components please contact us.


See the complete list of our space propulsion brochures available for download.