Within the framework of the LOEWE-RITSAT project, the development of radio-frequency (RF) ion thrusters for space applications has been funded by the state of Hesse. This project allowed THM University of Applied Sciences to establish the Space Electronics research group which engages in research and development in the area of electrical space propulsion systems.
Furthermore, we founded the THM junior group for space electronics in 2016/17. It is part of the specialization field spaceflight of THM in collaboration with JLU, and is integrated in this very working group. As part of the project to forster the development of research infrastructure, this group is also supported by the innovations and infrastructre budget by the Hessen State Ministry for Higher Education, Research and the Arts (HMWK) of the Hesse region from 2016–2020.
Since 2012, THM – represented by the Electrical Engineering and Information Technology department – in collaboration with University of Giessen – represented by the Institute of Experimental Physics I. – is involved in the development and optimization of RF ion thrusters. This particular thruster technology has a 40-year long tradition closely linked to Giessen and has its origins in Prof. Horst Löb’s pioneer work from the 1960s. Besides this, RF ion thrusters have already been utilized for commercial satellites. Nowadays, further developments are worked on in close collaboration with industrial partners, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the European Space Agency (ESA), which also act as supervisors for space testing.
The RITSAT-project's research is the cornerstone of an internationally competitive center for electrical space propulsion in Giessen, unifying education, training, research, development and marketing under one roof. For this purpose, the implementation of the new interdisciplinary "Physics and Technology for Space Applications" Bachelor’s and Master’s program, which is currently in the accreditation process, aims to prepare students for the requirements of the modern space industry and opens the way to scientific activity in conjunction with higher academic degrees. With their research work, the scientists from Giessen contribute substantially to new development in the area of electrical propulsion systems.
Current tenders for student research projects and theses can be found here.