Boeing has quite the exclusive on its hands, announcing the world's first satellite that uses an all-electric propulsion system. The new Boeing ABS-3A is a 4,300 pound telecommunications satellite will provide both C- and Ku-band service to South America, the Middle East and Africa.
What makes Boeing's ABS-3A different than other satellites in orbit, is that the ABS-3A doesn't use tanks of inert gas for propulsion and orbit maintenance. This is where the all-electric technology comes into play, with Boeing using the Xenon Ion Propulsion System (XIPS) which blasts out a magnetic field to push ions around, generating thrust.
Boeing's ABS-3A will use just 11 pounds of Xenon annually, which is quite generous considering its 15-year operational lifespan. This is around one-tenth the amount of propellant that a normal satellite would require. The company launched its new ABS-3A abord the Falcon 9 rocket that launched in March, and handed over control to ABS-3A to its new owner, Asia Broadcast Satellite, last month.