This form of propulsion uses an ionised gas accelerated through a metal grid under electrical potential. This is the second most popular form of electrical propulsion after the hall effect thruster.There is no ceramic channel to erode but the anode and cathode need separating with a good level of electrical insulation. The best ceramic isolation combines insulation with mechanical strength and reliability whilst being low in density.Ion thrusters have proven themselves on several missions including Goche and Bepicolumbo which is currently heading to Mercury. They are also used on the Japanese state space agency’s JAXA Hayabusa2 mission to collect samples from an asteroid. The low thrust levels even with the accelerated ion speeds of up to 200 km per second mean that ion thrusters are not suitable for all applications. Ion thrusters are a technology that is difficult to miniaturise, requiring electrical insulation across the grids to generate propulsion. Reducing the gaps reduces the electrical potential. Materials proven in this technology are high purity 99.7% Alumina and Shapal Hi-M Soft, both part of the extensive portfolio of high-performance technical ceramics available from Precision Ceramics Europe.BepiColombo is a planned European-Japanese mission to Mercury and successfully blasted off from Kourou, French Guiana, on its long journey on Friday 19th October. The spacecraft, carried out of the earth’s atmosphere by an Ariane 5 ECA rocket, will spend seven years cruising towards its target using several gravity assists from other planets along the way.The mission includes a carrier spacecraft called the Mercury Transfer Module (MTM) which supplies electrical power during the interplanetary cruise. It is within the MTM that Shapal Hi-M Soft cable clamps and terminal blocks designed by QinetiQ and manufactured by Precision Ceramics are incorporated.