Qualification status update of the MICRO R3 and NANO R3 FEEP thrusters – 23 June 2022

Authors: Lou Grimaud , Tony Schönherr, Thorsten Vogel, Ivanhoe Vasiljevich, Nina Mühlich, Bernhard Seifert, Alexander Reissner and David Krejci

Published On: June 19-23, 2022

Event: 37th International Electric Propulsion Conference – Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA USA, IEPC-2022-200


Field-emission electric propulsion (FEEPs) as part of the electrostatic propulsion family are low-thrust, high-Isp subsystems suitable for various mission applications on satellites ranging from Cubesats over constellations to larger satellites and can be easily clustered to fulfil mission requirements. Based on space-proven liquid metal ion source (LMIS) technology, FOTEC developed the IFM Nano Thruster as a standalone FEEP subsystem including propellant management and electronics (PPU) resulting in a first IOD in early 2018. The technology is now being commercialized as ENPULSION NANO thruster by the spin-out company ENPULSION and has resulted in delivery of several hundred thrusters and more than 100 thruster units in orbit (as of Q2 2022). Further R&D efforts at both ENPULSION and FOTEC have resulted in new products: the NANO R3 as an evolutionary step based on the NANO as well as the MICRO R3 based on the same technology for more demanding mission requirements. Both products are now being qualified within an ESA qualification project, and the current status and results are presented herein.

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