IFM Nano Thruster for CubeSats

Flight Heritage since 2018

IFM Nano Thruster for CubeSats

38,400

With its IFM Nano Thruster ENPULSION was the first company to offer an operational FEEP-based propulsion solution, which was developed under ESA contracts for 15 years. Due to the efficient ionization process, which allows the capacity to ionize up to 60% of the evaporated indium atoms, the IFM Nano Thruster can provide a higher specific impulse than any other ion propulsion system currently on the market. The IFM Nano Thruster provides a nominal thrust of 350 µN and can operate at an Isp range of 2,000 to 6,000 s. It can be operated along the full dynamic range throughout the mission. As of April 2020, there are 28 IFM Nano Thrusters on 9 spacecrafts in orbit with total deliveries exceeding 100 thrusters.

Availability: 16 weeks

  • Features
  • Properties and performance
  • Documents

Mature technology

The IFM Nano Thruster is a mature technology, developed under ESA contracts for 15 years. In this time more than 100 emitter have been tested and an ongoing lifetime test has demonstrated more than 20000 h of firing without degradation of the emitter performance.

 

Safe and inert system compliant during launch

The IFM Nano Thruster contains no moving parts and the propellant is in its solid state at room temperature. Avoiding any liquid and reactive propellants as well as pressurized tanks significantly simplifies handling, integration and launch procedures.

 

Compact buildings blocks

The IFM Nano Thruster module is used as a compact pre-qualified building block in order to provide custom solutions at a commodity price and ultra-short lead times. Although building blocks are completely self-contained propulsion systems, the whole cluster can be operated as a single plug-and-play unit.

 

Dynamic precise thrust control

The thrust can be controlled through the electrode voltages, providing excellent controllability over the full thrust range and a low thrust noise.

 

Controllable specific impulse up to 6000 S

Due to the efficient ionization process, which allows the capacity to ionize up to 60% of the evaporated indium atoms, the IFM Nano Thruster can provide a higher specific impulse than any other ion propulsion system currently on the market.

 

Redundant neutralizer cathodes

As the IFM Nano Thruster expels an ion current of up to 4 mA, the module needs means to prevent spacecraft charging. This is achieved by the use of two cold-redundant electron sources acting as neutralizers. Once electrons have left the neutralizer, they will be pulled towards the positive potential of the ion plume. The PPU is able to measure and control this charge balancing electron current.

 

Compact building blocks

The IFM Nano Thruster module is used as a compact pre-qualified building block in order to provide custom solutions at a commodity price and ultra-short lead times. Although building blocks are completely self-contained propulsion systems, the whole cluster can be operated as a single plug-and-play unit.

 

Modularity

The IFM Nano Thruster can be clustered in order to meet any specific mission need. As we are using a number of prequalified modules (building blocks), this customization can be done without increasing the cost or lead times of the thruster.

While the required power to operate the IFM Nano Thruster starts at around 8 W, at higher thrust levels one can choose between high thrust and high specific impulse operation. The IFM Nano Thruster can operate at an Isp range of 2000 to 6000 s. At any given thrust point, higher Isp operation will increase the total impulse, while it will also increase the power demand. The thruster can be operated along the full dynamic range throughout the mission. This means that high Isp and low Isp maneuvers can be included in a mission planning, as well as high thrust orbit maneuver and low thrust precision control maneuvers.

Parameter Value
Dynamic thrust range 10 μN to 0.4 mN
Nominal thrust 350 μN
Specific impulse 2000 to 6000 s
Propellant mass 230 g
Total impulse More than 5000 Ns
Power at nominal thrust 40 W incl. neutralizer
Outside dimensions 100.0 x 100.0 x 82.5 mm
Mass (dry/wet) 670/900 g
Total system power 8-40 W
Hot standby power 3.5 W
Command interface RS422/RS485
Temperature envelope (non-operational) -40 to 105°C
Temperature envelope (operational) -20 to 40°C
Supply voltage 12 V, 28 V, other voltages upon request