A guide to adopting thrusters on small satellite missions

Podcast

On Tuesday the 15th of June 2021 we ran a free webinar entitled; A guide to adopting thrusters on small satellite missions.

The event included presentations from 5 industry experts in research, design, development, integration, and operation of thruster systems in small satellites.

At satsearch we are always looking to find new ways to better connect buyers and sellers in the global market.

We aren’t promoting the individual suppliers in this webinar, the event instead drilled down into technical details of different thruster technologies, and answered questions from engineers that help move the procurement process forwards. Please take a look here:



The suppliers that presented at the event are, in order of appearance:

You can find out more about thruster technologies for CubeSats and smallsats on satsearch here.

Delve deeper into the criteria that you need to consider when selecting the right thruster for your mission in this article.

Please send us your questions or requests for quotes, documentation here.

In the section below you can see details of products referenced in the talks


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 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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

The ENPULSION Nano AR³ uses differential emission throttling within the proprietary crown ion emitter to control actively the emitted ion beam and, therefore, thrust.

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.

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.


exotrail-exomg-nano exotrail-exomg-micro exotrail-exomg-cluster2

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.

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