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FEEP First Successful In-Orbit Demonstration of a FEEP Thruster
ENPULSION, the only commercial manufacturer worldwide of the indium-based FEEP (Field-Emission Electric Propulsion) thruster, is announcing the successful demonstration of an in-orbit CubeSat equipped with their proprietary IFM Nano product. This accomplishment occurred after our product was integrated in a 3U Platform that launched in January 2018. This marks a huge step for innovation and technology by using the first ever FEEP thruster in space. “This is a historic moment not only for our company, but for the whole space industry. We strongly believe that the FEEP technology is bringing a number of capabilities to the table that might very well disrupt our industry.” says Dr. Alexander Reissner, Founder and CEO of ENPULSION. “Immediately after the spin-out from FOTEC, where this technology was developed for more than 15 years, we have seen an overwhelming demand for our product, even before we demonstrated the technology in space and are pleased that we are now able to fulfill the expectations of our customers.”
During the commissioning phase, all subsections of the thruster have performed nominally and a fully neutralized 2mA ion beam has been emitted generating a thrust of ~250µN at an ISP of ~4000s. As part of the commissioning, a 15-minute constant thrust burn was performed resulting in a delta v of 4.1 cm/s which has been independently verified by measuring the orbital parameters of the spacecraft.
“This performance is unprecedented for any propulsion system of that size and brings whole new level of maneuverability to small satellites.” says Dr. David Krejci, CEO of ENPULSION.
See figure 1.1 – 15-minute constant thrust operation
During the next several weeks, ENPULSION will be performing various maneuvers to test the full range of the IFM Nano Thruster’s capabilities and verify the inherent benefits of the FEEP technology that has been developed at FOTEC. ENPULSION has agreements with several future small satellite constellations and will continue to “push” the boundaries of space using advanced technologies.
The Indium-FEEP technology has been developed at FOTEC for more than 15 years until the technology was licensed to the spin-out ENPULSION in 2017. ENPULSION is now producing electric propulsion systems at scale to meet the vastly increasing demand for compact satellite propulsion systems. In June 2018, a production facility will be opened manufacturing one thruster per day.
“We have an enormous interest from worldwide small satellite manufacturers in our product. The key to this success is the concept of clustering pre-qualified building blocks, which is made possible by our proprietary Indium-FEEP technology. It seems that our offer of providing a custom propulsion solution at a catalogue price and with extremely short lead times is really hitting a nerve of the industry.” Says Dr. Reissner
Dr. Thomas Nennadal, MBA
thomas.nennadal (at) enpulsion.com
About ENPULSION: ENPULSION is a Space Tech Start-Up based in Austria and Silicon Valley. It is the only entity worldwide offering FEEP thrusters for commercial applications, which have been developed at FOTEC under ESA contracts for more than 15 years. This proprietary technology allows satellite developers and manufactures to introduce extremely high total impulse capabilities in very small system volumes.
Visit www.enpulsion.com for more information or to inquire.
Visit www.fotec.at for more information about our R&D partner.