IFM Nano Thruster for CubeSats
The IFM Nano thruster was developed as spin-off from a thruster being developed for high precision control of ESA’s Next Generation of satellite Gravity Missions. Building on more than 30 years of experience with ion sources for space applications, FOTEC is the only group world-wide to deliver space-qualified liquid metal ion sources to a large number of missions such as Rosetta or MMS. The operating principle (Field Emission Electric Propulsion – FEEP) is based on field ionization from the tips of a porous tungsten crown at positive potential and consequent electrostatic acceleration of the Indium ions. One of the advantages of this technology is that the thruster can provide highly accurate thrust ranging from 10 – 500 μN, operating at a significantly higher Isp than other electric propulsion technologies. Due to the use of a solid propellant and the absence of a propellant management system, it is possible to build a complete subsystem with a much smaller size and weight than other technologies providing the same total impulse. The whole system can be accommodated in a volume of 10x10x6 cm or 0.6U Cubesat including all power electronics, which allows Nano satellites to perform orbit changes and station keeping and thus increasing significantly the mission range. It also allows large satellites to control their position with an unprecedented accuracy enabling e.g. formation flight of scientific satellites.
Availability: 4 weeks