Purdue University researchers have developed a new propulsion system that grants CubeSats better range and reliability.
CubeSats are relatively small in size and economical to make. This has made them a popular choice for commercial launches in recent years.
However, the process to propel such satellites in space comes with its own set of problems – chief among them being the uncertainty of the propulsion’s ignition system.
“We have created a lower energy triggering technology that uses nanosecond-long pulses, that allows the ignition and propulsion systems to function reliably for a very long time,” says assistant professor Alexey Shashurin.
“Specifically, we have successfully tested the ignition system for greater than 1.5 million pulses and it remained operational and almost intact after the test. This is a giant leap for extending the lifetime of electric propulsion systems for CubeSats.”
“It is exciting to tackle these new challenges presented on spacecraft of a much smaller scale than in previous years. The next step for the CubeSats is to have a robust propulsion system for necessary maneuvering and station-keeping duties.”
Shashurin and his team worked with the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization to file a provisional patent on the technology.
The team is now planning to participate in the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps program.
I-Corps provides support for conducting extensive customer discovery with an ultimate goal of commercializing the technology.
Image and content: Akash Systems-Via Satellite/Purdue University