Due to electric propulsion’s inherent propellant mass savings over chemical propulsion, electric propulsion orbit transfer vehicles (EPOTVs) are a highly efficient mode of orbit transfer. When selecting an electric propulsion device (ion, MPD, or arcjet) and propellant for a particular mission, it is preferable to use quick, analytical system optimization methods instead of time intensive numerical integration methods. It is also of interest to determine each thruster’s optimal operating characteristics for a specific mission. Analytical expressions are derived which determine the optimal specific impulse (Isp) for each type of electric thruster to maximize payload fraction for a desired thrusting time. These expressions take into account the variation of thruster efficiency with specific impulse. Verification of the method is made with representative electric propulsion values on a LEO‐to‐GEO mission. Application of the method to specific missions is discussed.
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