Everyone is fascinated by space. Girls and boys dream about going to the moon. Teenagers become skeptical, wondering if someone ever really walked on the moon, while they twitter the world what they are having for lunch. Students dream of going to Mars, or of winning the Nobel Prize by explaining the expansion of the universe or the “big bang”. Adults drive their cars, arriving exactly where they want to thanks to their navigation system. We rely heavily on satellites: we need them for communication, to study our climate, to predict the weather, to map resource usage, to react to emergencies, to understand our origins. We feel safe with them, and take them for granted.
But a satellite has a limited lifetime. For decades mankind has been putting spacecraft in orbit and many stay there, where they can collide and break up, filling space with junk.
Imagine a day when mobile phone networks stop working due to debris piece hitting a functional satellite. Imagine a day when planes can’t navigate to the airport due to two satellites colliding.
It’s like walking on marbles. You can often get to the other side of the room safely, but the chance of slipping on a marble will get bigger with the increase of the amount of marbles.
Space junk needs to be cleaned; we need something that can push those marbles into the corner, where they are harmless. Or, in case of satellites, we need something that can push the garbage out of orbit and into the atmosphere where it will burn up. For that we need cleaning satellites small enough that we can send many of them, maneuverable enough to locate and then attach itself to the pieces of junk, and powerful enough to push the debris out of orbit. We need small satellites with efficient MicroThrust propulsion.
This is only one example of what a satellite with a microthruster can do. But just like everything else in space, your imagination is your limit. With help of the microthrusters small spacecraft can explore the moon, go beyond the moon to explore deep space, we can go to comets and asteroids. And when one satellite isn’t enough… then we will send out dozens flying in formation.
Here we will tell you what the MicroThrust consortium is doing. You will find recent talks that were given by members of the consortium on different occasions. And we will place here upcoming events, so that you can visit one of our presentations and meet the people yourself.