Case studies on propulsion

Webinar

This video is a footage of a satsearch webinar held on the 4th of May 2022 on real examples of thrusters being tested and used on-board small satellites.

Thrusters and in-space propulsion units are often described as solutions to many of the issues that small satellites can potentially face in orbit.

But what are the actual possibilities, and limitations, of such systems?

And what does it really take to integrate and use the technologies available on the market today?

In this webinar we take a deep dive into the use cases, engineering considerations, and real-world mission scenarios from 4 thruster manufacturers currently active in the global space marketplace.



Presenters

The presenters in this webinar were all experienced manufacturers of in-space propulsion systems for satellites and are all paying members of the satsearch membership program.

The individual slide decks for the presentations are freely available on each company’s supplier hub linked to below:


Satellite thruster products

The following systems are all manufactured by the satsearch members who presented in the webinar and were each referenced in the talks, or are related to the products discussed:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

agility
cubesat thrusters
engineering
in space propulsion
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