Tools and Services for Electric Propulsion


Sitael is equipped with 15 vacuum, thermal vacuum and ultra-high vacuum chambers of different sizes and capabilities, ranging from 20 cm up to 6 m in internal diameter. Vacuum chambers are currently used for a variety of testing and R&D activities for internal projects and for external customers. These facilities are equipped with a wide range of internally developed plasma and thruster diagnostics: thrust measurement systems, RPA and Faraday cups, Langmuir probes, QCM, thermal cameras, erosion measurement systems.

Vacuum or thermal vacuum chambers and diagnostics can be designed based on specific customer’s requirements and needs, and commissioned as turn-key systems all around the World.


With its long standing experience in electric propulsion, SITAEL offers a variety of plasma diagnostic systems, specifically tailored to customer needs. These include high-tech instrumentation, data acquisition systems and post-processing tools based on commercially available standards.

sitael Diagnostics


SITAEL PICPluS code family is meant to provide a state-ofthe-art fast simulation instrument to study and predict plasma thruster plumes and their interaction with space vehicle surfaces. Two versions of the code are presently availbale: a two-dimensional axially-symmetric and a threedimensional hybrid PIC/MCC codes. Both versions are completely GUI based and can be run on standard PC workstations. A set of virtual instruments is present in the code for plume analysis, as well as the possibility to use different physical models.

sitael software PicPlus

Test Services

SITAEL vacuum chambers can be provided to external customers for electric propulsion and other vacuum – thermal vacuum experiments.

  • IV 3, equipped with a custom-built hypersonic flow generator, is used as a high enthalpy plasma wind tunnel for research on the aerothermodynamics of re-entry vehicles at high Mach numbers.
  • IV 4 is a medium size (Ø 2 m, length 4,2 m) which can host thrusters up to 7 kW in power. Diagnostics include a thrust measurement system, a RPA-Faraday semi-circular rake with 7 probes, Langmuir probes, telemicroscopy system for erosion measurement and thermal cameras-pyrometers.
  • IV 10 is the biggest facility in SITAEL, and one of the biggest in the World (Ø 6 m, length 10 m). Its four stage pumping system, including a complete liquid nitrogen shroud, is able to handle thrusters up to 35 kW in power. Diagnostics set is the same of IV 4, plus two QCM for backsputtering measurement.
  • IV 13 is a new vacuum facility, connected to IV 10 through a 630 mm gate valve. It can be used as a stand alone thermal vacuum facility (with temperature range from -50° C up to 120° C), or together with the bigger chamber in –for example- cold start tests.

High Vacuum Products

SITAEL heritage in the design, manufacturing, integration and final commissioning of complete high vacuum facilities, for internal use and for external Customers, allows us to offer a wide range of highly customizable solutions, both in the research and in the industrial field.