RITSAT Ion Thrusters for Space Travel – Plasma Physics and Future Technologies

Ion thrusters are the marathon runners of the engines designed for space travel. They have relatively low levels of thrust and therefore, unlike chemical thrusters, are not well suited to transporting space probes or satellites into space. However, their endurance capacity and precision ensure the manoeuvrability of spacecraft in outer space and make it possible to overcome interplanetary distances. The application of ion thrusters in the removal of space debris such as disused satellites or upper rocket stages is now also a possibility; impulses transmitted to objects propel them out of the earth’s orbit. The LOEWE research cluster RITSAT is developing and testing new and highly specialised ion thrusters. The contractually agreed cooperation with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Göttingen and Airbus safeguards the continuation of the foundational research on ion thrusters once the LOEWE funding has expired. The Technische Hochschule Mittelhessen will continue to participate in the development of electronic components through cooperative doctoral Projects.

LOEWE Research Cluster


  • Justus Liebig University Giessen
  • Technische Hochschule Mittelhessen (THM), Giessen
  • German Aerospace Center (DLR) – Institute of Aerodynamics and Flow Technology, Göttingen
  • Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE), Garching
  • GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH, Darmstadt

Fields of study

  • Plasma physics
  • Aerospace physics
  • Materials science
  • Micro and nanotechnology

Funding period

2012 to 2014

Project Coordinator

  • Prof. Dr. Peter J. Klar,
    Justus Liebig University Giessen


  • Gießen

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