ENPULSION delivers compact electric propulsion systems to The Aerospace Corporation

Aerospace Corporation-DiskSat-1170x540-1

Wr. Neustadt, Austria, September 6, 2023 – Four ENPULSION NANO propulsion systems were shipped to The Aerospace Corporation (Aerospace) for their DiskSat demonstration mission which is expected to be ready to fly by the end of 2024. DiskSat’s alternative approach to the CubeSat combines the benefits of a containerized launch with large surface areas that can be dedicated to power generation, antennas, and/or instruments needing exposure to space.

The DiskSat concept (Patent Pending)
The plate-shaped DiskSat satellite measures one meter in diameter and is 2.5 centimeters thick, a shape designed to maximize surface area. For launch, several DiskSats can be stacked to fit within a launch vehicle’s fairing and deployed one at a time after the launch vehicle reaches orbit.
The idea of stacked disks is to make efficient use of available launch volume. This maximizes the surface area of individual satellites without increasing their mass beyond that typical of CubeSats. The most obvious advantage of the DiskSat is the high power-to-mass ratio due to the increased surface area available for solar cells.

Electric propulsion
The high-power capacity of the DiskSat facilitates the use of electric propulsion. The combination of electric propulsion and the low mass of DiskSat has the potential to enable unprecedented manueverability in containerized satellites.
In addition, the shape of the DiskSat makes it possible to fly in an orientation that reduces atmospheric drag. Combining low-drag flight with electric propulsion for drag makeup may enable mission operations in orbits below those used by typical satellites – an ability that can provide better resolution or sensitivity, for Earth-observation as an example.

Field Emission Electric Propulsion (FEEP)
One of the many advantages of ENPULION’s Field Emission Electric Propulsion (FEEP) technology is its compactness which already includes the propulsion subsystem as well as the propellant. The fully integrated ENPULSION NANO propulsion systems are shipped full and no filling operation is required. It contains no moving parts and even when active, no part of the propulsion system is pressurized, and no chemical or electrical energy is stored.
The emitters use indium, a non-toxic, non-reactive and non-radioactive metal as propellant, with negligible evaporation even in vacuum at high temperature. The FEEP technology is an entirely passive system using no hazardous materials and an unpressurized solid propellant during all process stages. Propulsion systems are delivered in a ready-to-fly state and are designed for simple and fast integration.

“We are very proud to be part of the DiskSat demonstration mission, since it will not only show the distinct advantages of this innovative satellite. It will also demonstrate the unique properties and advantages of our FEEP thrusters. We support Aerospace’s spirit for innovation, which complements our very own, since thinking outside the box is what got us here in the first place.” – said Alexander Reissner, CEO & Founder of ENPULSION

“It is possible to envision a DiskSat taking on almost any mission that can be flown in CubeSats, the large surface area, high power-to-mass ratio, the stackability, as well as the compactness and power of ENPULSION’s propulsion technology suggest a few missions that cannot easily be flown in CubeSats. This opens a new mission space for low-altitude imaging, radar, or other Earth-observation missions as well as beyond low earth orbit (LEO) applications, including lunar and planetary missions.” – said Richard Welle, Aerospace Corp. senior scientist for Mission Systems Engineering

NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology Program
Supported by The Small Spacecraft Technology Program within NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, The Aerospace Corporation will build and fly a demonstration mission for their DiskSat. Four spacecraft will be deployed in LEO to verify baseline DiskSat performance and validate the launch dispenser mechanism.
After deployment, the four satellites will use electric propulsion to change orbits, with two satellites moving to lower-altitude orbits, and two moving to higher-altitude orbits, showcasing DiskSat’s maneuverability. This demonstration mission is expected to be ready to fly by the end of 2024.

About The Aerospace Corporation
The Aerospace Corporation is a U.S. national nonprofit corporation that operates a federally funded research and development center and has more than 4,600 employees. With major locations in El Segundo, California; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and the Washington, D.C. region, Aerospace addresses complex problems across the space enterprise and other areas of national and international significance through agility, innovation, and objective technical leadership. For more information, visit www.aerospace.org. Follow us on Twitter: @AerospaceCorp.

With close to 200 propulsion systems in space, more than 300 propulsion systems delivered to customers worldwide and more than 150 years of accumulated on-orbit operation, ENPULSION is the world’s leading manufacturer of electric propulsion systems for nano- and microsatellites.
The company is supporting more than 40 customers on 4 continents from its headquarters in Austria, as well offices in the US and France. Its products are based on the company’s proprietary Field-Emission Electric Propulsion (FEEP) technology, behind which are more than 30 years of research and development work in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the FOTEC Research Facility.

Media Inquiries
The Aerospace Corporation
Dianna Ramirez
Media Relations Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Division

Andreas Temmer
Team Lead Marketing

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