From physics to engineering
Although the physics isn’t new, making it work in space – especially in a cubesat form factor – requires serious engineering skills.
Our advanced team of engineers and technicians have successfully designed, built and tested a complete propulsion system based on Dr Neumann’s innovation. Easily integrated via a single connector and a simple mechanical interface, it includes the power processing hardware, microcontroller, capacitor bank, and thruster head with propellant.
Given that our propellant is a solid object that is non-hazardous, solid-state and chemically inert, we avoid the challenges of other technologies using gaseous or liquid propellants. We can ship our system with the propellant loaded, removing the need for a pressurised tank.
Our thruster’s quasineutral exhaust also operates at far lower voltages than ion, electrospray, or FEEP systems, further enhancing system safety from a power supply perspective. Other technologies require a complex neutraliser to prevent spacecraft charging, leading to a significant risk of arcing and breakdown in the power supply or neutraliser.
Our technology uses common materials that are commercially available, reducing cost, risk and lead time. Other technologies may require exotic materials (such as xenon), problematic machining processes (such as making ceramic discharge chambers), or advanced fabrication techniques (such as laser-sintered refractory metals) – all of which add costs.
Since our system operates in pulses that are each a few hundred microseconds long, the available spacecraft power can charge the capacitors between pulses at a rate determined by the onboard power management system. This feature permits our system to operate at the same efficiency in power-constrained environments while producing less thrust due to the lower power input. Miniaturised versions of other technologies can struggle with the limited power available to small spacecraft and nanosatellites, as they require power for propellant management, neutralisers, and other enabling hardware.