In this post we provide an overview of CubeSat thrusters and in-space propulsion technologies for small satellites, and share details of various products on the global market – if you’re familiar with this technology and would like to skip straight to the product listings, please click here.
- Your CubeSat thruster requirements
- CubeSat thrusters on the market
- Chemical propulsion systems
- Electric propulsion systems
There is growing demand for in-space propulsion systems that enable small satellites to achieve attitude and orbit control, orbital transfers, and end-of-life deorbiting.
This is particularly important for the slew of LEO and MEO constellations currently being developed, as constellation control will be an important factor in the success of these ventures.
Over the past decade, there has been an explosion of activity in the smallsat propulsion world, driven by technology breakthroughs, industry commercialization, and private investment.
In this article, we provide a gentle primer to the topic of selecting a thruster for a smallsat mission, and give an overview of some of the propulsion products making waves within the global marketplace for space.
Do you know of any smallsat thrusters that we’ve missed? Please drop us a note at [email protected] or on Twitter. Alternatively, if you’d like to list your products and services on satsearch, get started here.
Selecting the most appropriate thruster product for a CubeSat can be a tricky challenge, but is a critical step for any mission or service requiring inspace maneuverability and control.
The rapid growth of the NewSpace sector has led to greater use of modular components, such as CubeSat thrusters, while electronic miniaturization is also enabling new satellite setups and capabilities that need to be considered.
To help navigate these criteria, in this article we look at some of the factors that should be taken into account to make this decision. We also provide an overview of a number of propulsion products on the market, listed on the satsearch platform to help you select the best option.
Your CubeSat thruster requirements
We recommend a simple 4-step approach for a preliminary selection of a thruster for a CubeSat, as explained below:
- Specify your exact mission parameters
- Record all known design specifications of the CubeSat
- Consider the range of technology that will be used in the system
- Take into account the key performance criteria
Your mission parameters
The first step is to fully understand the full set of mission parameters, including both the critical applications and desirable, but not necessarily essential, objectives.
Knowing exactly what functions your thruster will need to perform, and on what schedule and duration, will make selecting a model easier.
Also consider the launch stresses, testing processes and regulatory compliance that the CubeSat will need to go through, in order to make it into orbit, as well as any obsolescence procedures once the mission is complete.
Your CubeSat’s physical specifications
Next, keep to hand all currently known design information about the CubeSat unit.
This can include the volume, weight, primary structural material and more basic things such as the location, storage and transport arrangements of the major components.
You will need to make sure that the thruster you choose will be suitable for these parameters.
Your full range of tech
Once you are clear on exactly what tasks the thruster will need to perform and the design characteristics of the CubeSat, the next consideration is the technology that will sit alongside the thruster to make sure everything is compatible (and fits in the unit in the first place!)
You may not yet know the full range of accompanying tech (and you might need to first choose the thruster in order to make decisions on other components), but make sure you have access to the technical specifications of all the other sub-systems and structural components that are most likely to be used per the current plans.
Key performance criteria
Now you’re armed with the knowledge of what the thruster needs to do, work alongside and fit within, you can make an informed decision from the available products, based on your required performance characteristics.
Some of the potential key specifications and performance criteria to evaluate are:
- Size and weight – Will it fit? Is it too heavy? The physical volume (usually expressed in CubeSat units / U) and on-Earth weight determine what other components can be used in the unit and impact transport and launch costs.
- Specific impulse – What specific impulse values are required for your CubeSat and intended applications?
- Electric or chemical – This is a big debate and beyond this article to go into in detail. Both classes of propulsion technologies can perform very well for CubeSats and should be evaluated for any potential system.
- Flight heritage – Is this thruster fully tested in space? You need to know that the system will survive the launch and operate as expected in microgravity, so it is important to look at the product’s history.
- Operating power – What power supply can your CubeSat use to operate the thruster? What input will work best with other systems and maintain safety and efficiency?
- Thruster delta-V capability – What changes in velocity does the thruster need to produce in order to carry out the maneuvers required in the mission?
- Integration requirements – Do you require a simple plug-and-play system? Or do your CubeSat’s needs and mission parameters dictate a more customizable solution?
These provide a snippet of the technical details that are necessary to evaluate as part of your selection process. In addition, there are the typical criteria for any major purchase such as; cost, delivery time, supplier reputation and location, contract details and maintenance conditions to take into account.
Finally, it’s important to know that selection of a thruster for your CubeSat is an iteratively process, as is the case for virtually every other component of your overall system.
CubeSat thrusters on the market
In this section, you can find a range of CubeSat thruster products available on the global market. These listings will be updated when new in-space propulsion systems for CubeSats are added to the global marketplace for space at satsearch.co – so please check back for more or sign up for our mailing list for all the updates.
We have also put together an overview of Electrical Power Systems (EPS) and On-board computers (OBC), as well as many other categories of space services and sub-systems available on the market.
Click on any of the links or images below to find out more about the systems. You can also submit a request for a quote, documentation or further information on each of the products listed or send us a more general query to discuss your specific needs, and we will use our global networks of suppliers to find a system to meet your specifications.
In addition, if you would like further advice on how to select a CubeSat thruster or small satellite propulsion system, please click here to take a look at the footage and links from our in-depth webinar on the topic, featuring speakers from 5 of the companies listed below.
Chemical propulsion systems
Thrusters utilizing chemical propellants operate by creating gas, through chemical reactions, which expands and is expelled to produce thrust.
A variety of different chemicals may be used as propellant, in either monopropellant (made from a single chemical) or bi-propellant (a mixture of two chemicals) form.
Common propellants in use (some of which may also be used in electric propulsion systems) include hydrazine, ammonium dinitramide (ADN), water, iodine, xenon, adamantane, teflon, AF-M315E, and krypton.
An in-space propulsion system for 3-12U CubeSats, and similar platforms, with zero propellant toxicity. The standard 1U configuration of the PM200 propulsion module can deliver in excess of 230 m/s of velocity increment to a 3U CubeSat of 4 kg, at a nominal thrust level of 0.5 N.
An ADN-based monopropellant thruster which has up to 6% higher specific impulse and 24% higher energy density compared to hydrazine systems. The system can provide 1N BOL to 0.22N EOL per thruster, with a specific impulse of 213s and total impulse of 400 N s.
An ADN-based monopropellant thruster which has up to 6% higher specific impulse and 24% higher energy density compared to hydrazine systems. The system can provide 1N BOL to 0.22N EOL per thruster, with a specific impulse of 214s and total impulse of 1,700 N s.
A 0.040 kg (ex. FCV) mass thruster using non-toxic propellant and designed for small satellites and CubeSats. The system has a thrust range of 30 to 100 mN and specific impulse of 196 to 209 s. The system's versatility has been designed to enable new applications for satellite operators along with improving safety and efficiency during integration.
A 0.38 kg mass thruster using non-toxic propellant, and designed for attitude and orbit control of small-sized satellites. The system has a thrust range of 0.25 to 1 N and specific impulse of 194 to 227 s. The system's versatility has been designed to enable new applications for satellite operators along with improving safety and efficiency during integration.
Bradford ECAPS's 1N HPGP Thruster is designed for attitude and orbit control of small-sized satellites. 46 1N HPGP thrusters have been demonstrated to date, aboard the PRISMA spacecraft and the SkySat series. The system is Bradford ECAPS' most heritage line of thrusters and is most popular with small to medium sized spacecraft, up to 750 kg.
The Bradford ECAPS's 5N HPGP Thruster is designed for attitude, trajectory and orbit control of small and medium satellites, providing higher thruster when and where it is needed. The 5N HPGP thruster is currently undergoing a test fire campaign with the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, characterizing the performance of the system.
Bradford ECAPS's 22N HPGP Thruster is designed for attitude, trajectory and orbit control of larger satellites and for systems such as propulsive payload adaptor rings. The system has a mass of 1.1 kg, a thrust range of 5.5 to 22 N, and a specific impulse of 243 to 255 s. The non-toxic green propellant is designed to enhance versatility, safety, and efficiency during integration and use.
Bradford ECAPS's 50N HPGP Thruster is designed for attitude, trajectory and orbit control of larger satellites, including geostationary satellites, or launch vehicle applications. The 2.1 kg system has a specific impulse of 243 to 255 s and thrust range of 12.5 to 50 N. This thruster is currently in development and the company is looking for partners to bring the prior work into fruition.
Bradford ECAPS's 200N HPGP Thruster is designed for launch vehicle upper-stage reaction control and potential defense applications, such as missile defense. The system uses non-toxic propellant for added versatility, safety, and integration efficiency.
With a specific impulse of 155-320s and thrust level of 0.1-22 N, the Halcyon thruster uses HTP and Butane (optional) as propellants. Halcyon is available in a ‘dual mode’ configuration that can double the specific impulse of the unit using a post-catalyzed gas-gas injection.
Peregrine adopts an innovative green bi-propellant system developed around the patented micromixing technique. The thruster is capable of delivering a specific impulse of 270-290s and a thrust level of 0.1-22 N. The production lead time is six months and the propellants used are HTP+NHMF.
The CubeSat warm gas thruster delivers a specific impulse of 70-140s and a thrust level of 0.01-1 N. The thruster uses inert, non-toxic powdered propellant and provides a bus-agnostic propulsion solution. The production lead time is 4 months and the targeted spacecrafts are 1U – 24U.
The Dawn Aerospace CubeSat Propulsion Module 0.7U is a bi-propellant series CubeSat thruster that is designed to enable operators to get online rapidly, maintain performance, and ensure responsible operations. Propellants can be sourced from any industrial gas supplier and operations can be tested in both ambient and vacuum environments, allowing for easy and robust on-ground integration and testing.
The Dawn Aerospace CubeSat Propulsion Module 1U is a bi-propellant series CubeSat thruster designed for ease of both use and integration. The Nitrous oxide (N2O) and propene (C3H6) propellants may be sourced from a wide range of industrial suppliers, and the system can be tested in both ambient and vacuum environments. The turnkey propulsion system for CubeSats is provided complete with thrusters, propellant tanks, feed systems and control electronics.
The Dawn Aerospace B20 Thruster is a green, chemical, self-pressurizing bi-propellant small satellite thruster utilizing nitrous oxide and propene. Self-pressurizing propellants mean that one system can be used for both in-orbit and re-entry operations, and the thruster's stable pressure and mass flow rates provide a constant Isp throughout the system's life.
A green monopropellant thruster featuring a patented monolithic catalyst. The system uses non-toxic, green AF-M315E monopropellant which is stable and simpler to store and handle due to its low vapour proessure.
A 0.1 N nominal thrust propulsion unit utilizing stable, non-toxic AF-M315E green monopropellant. The propellant is safe and easy to handle given the low vapour pressure and the system also features a patented monolithic catalyst.
The monopropellant green thruster features a high temperature body, patented catalyst reactor and a low-power piezo microvalve with proven flight heritage. The Post-Launch Pressurization System (PLPS) makes it suitable for Cubesats and Smallsats, and the BGT-X5 system has a scalable and modular design.
The CU Aerospace (CUA) / VACCO Propulsion Unit for CubeSats (PUC) is a complete high- performance and compact small-satellite propulsion solution. The all-welded titanium PUC comes fully integrated with all necessary propulsion subsystems, including controller, power processing unit, micro-cavity discharge thruster, propellant valves, heaters, sensors, and software.
CU Aerospace has tested a proof-of-principle Monopropellant Propulsion Unit for CubeSats (MPUC). Complete catalyzed combustion was demonstrated of a H2O2-based propellant denoted as CMP-8. Thrust stand tests achieved a thrust level of >100mN at Isp >183 s with an average input power of ~3 W, for hot fire runs typically spanning >10 minutes.
An integrated, green proplusion module for small satellites, developed jointly with JAXA, for use in collision avoidance maneuvers. The system utilizes HNP225, a green propellant developed by IHI Aerospace for safer handling at the launch site.
Electric propulsion systems
Electric propulsion systems typically work by using electric or magnetic force to expel a propellant, thus creating a propulsive force in the opposite direction.
Thrusters utilizing electric propulsion can often operate at a higher specific impulse than those using chemical propulsion, therefore they require less propellant and have a higher mass efficiency. Ion thrusters are one of the most common forms of electric propulsion system; thrusters in which ions are accelerated to generate force.
Other sub-categories of ion thruster and electric propulsion system include Hall Effect Thrusters (HETs), Field-emission electric propulsion (FEEP) thrusters, electrospray thrusters, vacuum arc thruster, and electrothermal propulsion units.
While the required power to operate the ENPULSION NANO starts at around 10 W, at higher thrust levels one can choose between high thrust and high specific impulse operation. The ENPULSION NANO can operate at at an Isp range of 2,000 to 6,000 s.
While the required power to operate the ENPULSION NANO R³ starts at around 8 W, at higher power levels one can choose between high thrust and high specific impulse operation. The ENPULSION NANO R³ can operate at an Isp range of 2,000 to 6,000 s.
The ENPULSION NANO IR³ has been configured to enable thrust values up to 500 µN, and can operate at an Isp range of 1,500 to 4,000 s.
The ENPULSION Nano AR³ uses differential emission throttling within the proprietary crown ion emitter to control actively the emitted ion beam and, therefore, thrust.
Building on the heritage of the ENPULSION NANO, ENPULSION has developed a scaled version of the technology to target small and medium size spacecrafts. The ENPULSION MICRO R³ is engineered in a modular approach, with units clustering easily together to form building blocks.
The Exotrail ExoMG™-nano-S is a modular Hall Effect Thruster (HET) with a total impulse of 850 Ns that can be used for small satellites. The wet mass of the ExoMG™-nano-S is 1.9 kg, and the system is mission-configurable and suitable for post-launch manoeuvres with a system power of 60W.
The Exotrail ExoMG™-nano-L is a modular Hall Effect Thruster (HET) with a total impulse of 3.5 kNs that can be used for small satellites. The wet mass of the ExoMG™-nano-L is 3.1 kg, and the system is mission-configurable and suitable for post-launch manoeuvres with a system power of 60W.
The Exotrail ExoMG™-micro-M+ is a modular Hall Effect Thruster with a scalable configuration that can provide 17 kNs of total impulse, and can be used for microsatellites. The wet mass of the ExoMG™-micro-M+ is 6.4 kg, and the system is mission-configurable and suitable for post-launch manoeuvres with a system power of 150W.
The Exotrail ExoMG™-micro-XL is a modular Hall Effect Thruster with a scalable configuration that can provide 46 kNs of total impulse, and can be used for microsatellites. The wet mass of the ExoMG™-micro-XL is 12 kg, and the system is mission-configurable and suitable for post-launch manoeuvres with a system power of 150W.
The Exotrail ExoMG™-cluster²-L, composed of two ExoMG™-micro blocks that share the same tank assembly, is a clusterized Hall Effect Thruster that can provide 46 kNs of total impulse for microsats and minisats. The wet mass of the ExoMG™-cluster²-L is 13.2 kg, and the system is mission-configurable and suitable for post-launch manoeuvres with a system power of 300W.
The Exotrail ExoMG™-cluster²-XL, composed of two ExoMG™-micro blocks that share the same tank assembly, is a clusterized Hall Effect Thruster that can provide 100 kNs of total impulse for microsats and minisats. The wet mass of the ExoMG™-cluster²-XL is 21.1 kg, and the system is mission-configurable and suitable for post-launch manoeuvres with a system power of 300W.
The Exotrail ExoMG™ propulsion system family can be customized for a wide range of smallsats, providing high delta-v and high-thrust capabilities. The Exotrail ExoMG™ family of integrated Hall Effect propulsion systems is dedicated to platforms ranging from 6U up to 250 kg.
A launch-safe and cost-effective electrothermal propulsion system that uses water as propellant. The Comet produces 17 mN thrust with a specific impulse of 175s. It is approved for flight on multiple launch vehicles and features a flexible interface suitable for use with a wide range of spacecraft sizes.
A plug & play solid state fuel thruster system with instant on-demand firing and a customizable layout. Built using Hypernova's proprietary Vacuum Arc Thruster (VAT) technology, the unit has a wide operating temperature range and flexible power consumption.
An instant firing thruster system using non-toxic, pre-installed, and unpressurized solid state fuel. Developed according to Hypernova's proprietary Vacuum Arc Thruster (VAT) design, the plug & play system has flexible power consumption and a customizable layout for mission versatility.
Customized small satellite thrusters with configurable layout, capacity, and performance. Based on proprietary Vacuum Arc Thruster (VAT) designs and utilizing solid state, non-toxic fuel that is pre-installed in a safe, unpressurized format.
The SteamJet Space Steam TunaCan Thruster is a water-based, electrothermal propulsion system specifically designed for CubeSats that uses water as a propellant, featuring a tailored shape designed to enable simple installation in the TunaCan volume.
A safe, high-performance, electrothermal propulsion solution that is specifically designed for CubeSats and small satellites. The system features a tailored design and manufacturing approach that can be customized for different mission requirements.
A low pressure, low power propulsion unit with a scalable water tank and a redundant flow control system. A modular system featuring hollow cathodes and electrodes for enhanced lifetime.
A modular, water-based, low pressure thruster unit with a redundant flow control system (fail-safe valve). The thruster can be scaled by clustering propulsion units and expanding the propellant tank as needed.
T4i’s Regulus is designed based on Magnetically Enhanced Plasma Thruster (MEPT) technology. The highly modulable plug&play thruster uses iodine as a propellant, and produces a specific impulse of up to 650 s with a nominal input power of 50 W.
The Adaptable THruster based on Electrospray for NAnosatellites (ATHENA) is a fully customizable, on-board electric propulsion system, which can be tailored to spacecraft platform constraints, and specific mission requirements.
The ThrustMe NPT30-I2 1U is a miniaturized, propulsion system based on gridded ion thruster technology. The launch-qualified thruster has modular design, passive thermal management and intelligent operation control. It uses safe, non-pressurized solid iodine as propellant.
The ThrustMe NPT30-I2 1.5U is a modular, stand-alone propulsion unit based on gridded ion thruster technology and features a patented, pipeless design. The system utilizes solid iodine fuel and incorporates embedded intelligent controls and passive thermal management.
The ThrustMe I2T5 is a non-pressurized, cold gas propulsion system operating with Iodine as propellant. The I2T5 stand-alone system includes the propellant storage, the flow control, the PPU, as well as thermal management and intelligent operation all embedded into a 0.5U form factor.
The NanoFEEP uses a low-melting point metallic gallium alloy as propellant and the miniaturized ion thruster can operate at an Isp of 3000 to 8500s. The plug & play system is highly customizable and includes a chip-based neutralizer with the corresponding supply and control electronics.
One MultiFEEP system includes two thrusters, two neutralizers, and the control electronics board with a total system dry mass of 280g. The dynamic thrust range of MultiFEEP thruster is 1-120 μN with a maximum thrust of 140 μN. The specific impulse is 2600 to 8500s and the propellant mass range is 33-156g.
The Nova product-line is the baseline propulsion system used in the ORB-class satellite platforms. It is specifically built to capitalize on usage of the "tuna-can" volume made available for nanosatellites, minimising impact on volume consumed within the platform. It uses a low melting point, liquid metal propellant with no pressurized tanks or moving parts.
The Kilonova is an upgradable variant of OrbAstro's Nova propulsion system, built for compatibility with CubeSat platforms and suitable for larger ORB-class and Guardian-class satellite platforms. It is designed to work with the "tuna-can" volume and uses a liquid metal propellant with a low melting point and no pressurized tanks or moving parts.
The Supernova is an upgradable model of OrbAstro's Nova. It uses a low melting point liquid metal propellant, with no pressurized tanks or moving parts, and built for compatibility with CubeSats and suitable for larger Guardian-class and ORB-class satellite platforms.
A miniaturized centerline-cathode Hall Effect Thruster (HET) designed to offer a high-performance, high-delta-V, launch-vehicle-compliant propulsion solution for CubeSats. The system uses magnetic fields to focus and accelerate plasma in order to generate thrust and the system operates on a flexible range of inert gases and storable propellants, without combustion.
The Tiled Ionic Liquid Electrospray (TILE) 2 is a small satellite thruster provided in a 0.5U form factor. It operates at a typical total impulse of 21 Ns and delivers a maximum axial thrust of 0.04 mN. The ionic-liquid propelled thrusters have an operating temperature range of 10 to 50 °C. The maximum power drawn is 4 W.
The Tiled Ionic Liquid Electrospray (TILE) 3 system is a scalable, modular ion thruster with no heavy tanks, toxic propellants, external cathodes, or ionization chambers. It has a volume of 1U, a wet mass of 2 kg, and is produced using commercial MEMS manufacturing processes.
The plug&play Hydros-C thruster uses water propulsion technology and has a specific impulse of > 310s. The orbit-averaged thrust is 2.2 mN with a thrust efficiency of 0.13 MN/W. With 0.5 kg water capacity, the thruster has a lifetime of 3 years in LEO and capable of delivering > 1.2 N thrust.
The HYDROS-M is designed to fit inside a 15″ separation ring and sized for micro-satellites. The system uses water as propellant, with a capacity of 6.0 kg, the thruster has a specific impulse of > 310s, orbit-averaged thrust of 6.8 mN, and a thrust efficiency of 0.16 mN/W.
The AHT1 is designed for the smallest class of Cubesats, with a thruster size of only 1/8 U in total volume. The volume includes the complete thruster system, fuel management, and 3g of fuel capacity. The fuel used is adamantane which sublimes at low temperature eliminating the necessity of pressurised fuel tanks.
The EHT1 requires a power of only 20 W, making it suitable for small Cubesats. The entire system is only 1/3 U including fuel management and delivery components, a hollow cathode neutralizer, and a 3g fuel tank. The thruster uses adamantine, but it can also run on xenon.
The AIS-gPPT3-1C Thruster uses teflon as fuel and operates at a 5 V input voltage. As of March 22, 2021 the propulsion module was officially operational in orbit on the Veery Hatchling 1U CubeSat of Care Weather Technologies. Two more systems are delivered, integrated, and awaiting launch.
The Sub-Joule Micro Pulsed Plasma Thruster uses teflon and oxygen-free copper as fuel and electrode. The thruster design focuses specifically on miniaturization and accessibility for PocketQubes and Cubesats. The thruster offers a new solution due to the unconventional flat stacked-plate geometry.
Bellatrix Aerospace has developed and patented Microwave Electro-thermal Thrusters (MET), an advanced form of electric propulsion system for satellites. The technology has the ability to work effectively with several propellants such as argon, xenon, nitrogen, ammonia and water vapour.
Bellatrix's Hall Effect Thruster or Stationary Plasma Thruster (SPT) is an ion propulsion system that generates thrust by trapping electrons in a magnetic field and then using them to ionize propellant and efficiently accelerate the ions to produce thrust. Forms of Bellatrix SPT, with 40mN and 90mN thrust output, are under development.
Magnetoplasmadynamic Thruster (MPDT's) or Lorentz Force Accelerators (LFA) are an advanced form of electric propulsion system, capable of generating high thrust (~200N) with very high specific impulses (>20,000 seconds). While currently unsuitable for space applications (due to requiring power in the range of 50-200 MW) Bellatrix has been performing R&D on MPDTs since June 2013.
Maxwell is a plasma propulsion system designed for small satellites. The system encompasses a proprietary RF thruster, xenon propellant tank, power electronics and flight software in a compact package suitable for restricted volumes.
ARM-O is a CubeSat propulsion system designed for orbital control, station-keeping, and collision avoidance, utilizing a water-based propellant. ARM-O is the simplest variant of the Aurora Resistojet Module product family and generates unidirectional thrust. 1-4 thrusters can be included based on requirements.
The water-based propulsion system has a compact and lightweight design with various tank sizes, that are customizable for mission requirements. The thruster enables full 3-axis attitude control for target satellites 1–3U, 6U, and 12U, based on the tank variants.
One of the smallest available systems capable of controlling all directions of satellite movement. The thruster offers a customizable tank and module size with 4 or 6 degrees of freedom (ARM-AO vs ARM-6) and integrated attitude determination. The thruster technology is safe, green and has low power consumption.
The ARM-E can be attached to typically any external propellant tank. The thruster is suitable for satellites that require accurate movement functionality, such as attitude control, more precise control, or greater additional thrust. The variants include ARM-AE, ARM-AOE, ARM-OE, and ARM-6E.
The BHT-200 is Busek’s flagship matured propulsion system, with a proven flight heritage and currently operating on-orbit. The thruster features a patented design covered under “Tandem Hall Field Plasma Accelerator”. Iodine-compatible versions of the thruster have also been delivered for the MFSC iSat mission.
The TRL-6 matured Hall Effect Thruster (HET) technology features cathodes, PPUs, and a feed system of proven flight heritage. The thruster uses xenon and iodine as propellants. A hybrid variant (BHT-600i) using iodine as anode and xenon as cathode, has also been demonstrated.
A 2 kW-class Hall Effect Thruster (HET) designed for use with xenon, iodine and krypton as propellants. The BHT1500 features an innovative center-mounted cathode that reduces performance degradation and delivers a thrust of 103 mN at a power of 1800 W power, and a specific impulse of 1,820s.
The BHT-8000 is a mature HET operating on xenon and krypton as propellants, with a center-mounted cathode. The 8 kW (nominal) thruster features precisely designed magnetic field distribution for high total impulse and efficiency. Available configurations are circular, clustered, racetrack, and nested.
An ion thruster that utilizes an inductively coupled plasma (ICP) source. The system features a BRFC-1 RF Cathode and has an ion beam current of 2.7 mA. The unit has been designed to work with xenon propellant but is compatible with a range of other fuels.
The gridded ion thruster operates at 56-80 W input power and uses an inductively-coupled plasma (ICP) discharge. The thruster uses solid iodine as propellant, eliminating the need for high-pressure tanks, and an innovative thruster gimbal system enables attitude control.
A 460 W ion thruster featuring an inductively coupled plasma (ICP) source. The system is designed to work with xenon propellant but is compatible with a variety of other fuels. It includes a BRFC-1 RF Cathode and can produce a thrust of 11.0 mN.
With proven flight heritage, the rugged, small, safe, and precise micro-pulsed plasma thruster is suitable for CubeSat and microsatellite propulsion and attitude control. The BmP-220 uses non-toxic solid propellant teflon, featuring long storage life with no pressure tanks and no moving parts.
Busek’s micro-Pulsed Plasma Thrusters (μPPTs) have been in development since 2002 based upon technology originally developed at AFRL. These simple units feature no moving parts and non-toxic teflon propellant.
The Busek 3-axis μPPTs, or MPACS (Micro Propulsion Attitude Control System), are thruster units that produce precise, pulsed impulse bits (80μN-s), utilizing solid propellant. The systems feature no pressurized containers, no moving parts, and low power consumption (< 10W). Direct flight heritage was first achieved on the 2007 FalconSat-3 mission.
A multiplexed array of 9 μPPTs was constructed and delivered to the Air Force Institute of Technology as a lab- model test unit. This unit featured flight heritage μPPTs technology, increased the amount of total impulse of the MPACS unit while decreasing required power and digital electronics.
An integrated primary and attitude control system, with a specific impulse of 150s for the primary and 80s for each ACS thruster. The thruster can deliver 0.5 mN of thrust for each of 8 ACS thrusters and has full 6 degrees of freedom control for a Cubesat. The MRJ features a non-toxic, safe propellant.
The CubeSat High Impulse Propulsion System (CHIPS) adopts patended resistojet technology. The thruster is compact, with a size of 0.6 U and 0.3 U with and without Attitude Control System. The ACS allows a full 6 degrees of freedom. The thruster has warm/cold gas operational modes.
The CU Aerospace (CUA) Fiber-fed Pulsed Plasma Thruster (FPPT) system is a pulsed plasma thruster that uses PTFE fiber as propellant. The FPPT starts immediately without warmup and mechanically feeds PTFE propellant fiber from a non-rotating spool through the anode where it is subjected to a pulsed discharge and electromagnetically accelerated to provide thrust.
The CUA Monofilament Vaporization Propulsion (MVP) system is an electrothermal thruster that uses a space-rated plastic as propellant. The MVP draws from 3D printing technology to feed propellant. A preheat is required before firing (~3 minutes), but once warmed the “ready” state is maintained with minimal power draw and thermal loading.
The HT 100 Hall Effect Thruster (HET) is one of the smallest and lowest power HETs ever developed in Europe. Based on permanent magnets, the HT 100 HET is designed to perform orbit control tasks on micro-satellites and AOCS tasks on mini-satellites, and all components are ITAR-free.
A Hall Effect Thruster (HET) designed to be operated at a nominal discharge power of 20kW. The system has been designed to offer a favourable combination of performance, reliability, and lifetime. To improve the thruster-cathode coupling, HT20k features an internally mounted hollow cathode, the SITAEL HC60, located inside the inner pole of the magnetic circuit.
The HT 400 Hall Effect Thruster (HET) has been designed to perform orbit and attitude control tasks on micro- and mini-satellites. The system's function is based on permanent magnets and it is designed to be installed onboard telecommunication and Earth Observation (EO) platforms.
The HT 5k Hall Effect Thruster (HET) has been designed to meet the requirements of modern communication and navigation satellites, performing propellant-saving LEO-GEO/LEO-MEO transfers, as well as station-keeping tasks on large geostationary platforms.
A propulsion system for PocketQubes designed to not occupy any of the space reserved for the payload. The system entire system fits entirely inside the structural frame of a PocketQube and is slated to achieve flight heritage during Q4 2021, aboard the Laika PocketQube.
Designed for use as part of the propulsion system for satellites with onboard power larger than 300 W. The structure of ST25 includes a combination of solenoids and permanent magnets to minimize the electric power needed to create the magnet field in the acceleration channel.
The SETS Hall Effect Thruster (HET) ST40 is designed for use as part of the propulsion system for satellites with a mass up to 1T. It is designed to enable accurate orientation and stabilization of the spacecraft in different orbits. It provides a thrust of up to 28 mN at a maximum electric power consumption of up to 600 W, and is equipped with two heatless hollow cathodes.
A thruster unit designed for small and medium satellites. The SPS25 is able to adjust orbital parameters and ensure the maneuverability of satellites in space. The system includes one ST-25 (two hollow cathodes), a xenon feed system, and a power processing unit.
A propulsion system designed for advanced satellites constellations, enabling position correction relative to other satellites. The elements of the xenon feed system are demonstratively distributed on the surface. At the request of the customer it is possible to mount them in required volume. The propulsion system includes two ST-40 (two hollow cathodes for each thruster), the xenon feed system, and a power processing unit (PPU).
The Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR®) engine is a new type of electric thruster in which gas (such as argon, xenon, or hydrogen) is injected into a tube surrounded by a magnet and a series of two radio wave (RF) couplers. The couplers turn cold gas into superheated plasma and the rocket’s magnetic nozzle converts the plasma thermal motion into a directed jet.
Thanks for reading! If you would like any further help identifying a CubeSat thruster for your specific needs, please file a request on our platform and we’ll use our global network of suppliers to find an option.
Have you noticed that your company isn’t included in this article? Simply send us an email today, and we’d be happy to work with you to showcase your products to the satsearch community!