Microthrust aims to develop a technology that can make ordinary spacecraft smaller and that can enhance the capabilities of small spacecraft.
By developing a modular miniaturized electric propulsion system that is ten times or more smaller than existing electric propulsion systems, the mass and volume needed for these systems can be greatly reduced on standard spacecraft, leaving more room for scientific instruments. Or the spacecraft mass can be reduced for the same scientific payload reducing the mission costs.
For small spacecraft which could not afford a high Isp electric propulsion system because it was too heavy, will be able to afford it with MicroThrust technology.
Our Electric Micro Propulsion Technology can be applied to a variety of missions like:
- Orbit insertion: after a piggyback launch, this technology can manouvre a small satellite to its final orbit
- Space Exploration: our technology will allow small spacecraft to make large delta V maneuvers and escape from the Earth gravity field
- Inspection: a small satellite fly from large spacecraft to large spacecraft to inspect them and assess their health and functioning
- Debris removal: Small spacecraft equipped with Microthrust technologies can fly to space debris and de-orbit it
Below, case studies using this technology are described. We hope it will inspire you to consider using our technology for your mission.
Case study: Clean-mE
EPFL has studied a small spacecraft specifically designed for debris removal. In this Swiss study, lead by EPFL, a small 30 by 30 by 30 cm satellite was designed that could remove cubesats from orbit. It is equipped with several Swiss technologies for Rendez-vous and capture of small satellites.
Clean-mE is designed to fly to a piece of debris, capture it in its capture device and then de-orbit it using the advanced MicroThurst propulsion.
Case study: E-Moth
In 2010 a group of students from the Delft University of Technology studied the possibilities to send a triple nanosat to the Moon. The result was the E-Month, a triple Cubesat that, by using the MicroThrust Colloid Electric Propulsion, could climb up from a Geostationary Transfer Orbit to the Moon. The E-Moth was equipped with extendable solar arrays and a phased array antennae.
In orbit around the Moon the E-Moth will perform experiments to prove the OLFAR mission.
Case study: OLFAR
Orbiting Low Frequency Array
Echoes from the Dark
A nano-satellite swarm listens for the faintest whispers of the Univers's darkest secrets.
Science steps out into the great unknown.
About 400,000 years after the big bang, everything went dark. For 400 million years the galactic recipes that make life as we know it possible were concocted in complete darkness.
Because radiation from the Hydrogen of that era is too low to be received on Earth, those essential and creative Dark Ages remain the largest mystery known to the astronomy community; just out of reach of our ability to hear.
Astronomers are now looking to the moon for advantageous new vantage point to listen for whispers from the universe's most productive and secretive era.
The dark side of the Moon can provide a radio telescope with a shield to block Earth's disruptive signals. In the shadow of the moon, OLFAR hopes to look for the faintest glimmers of what happened in our universe over 13 billion years ago; after the Big Bang and before the first stars, when the formula for life was first put together.
With over 400 years of excellence in astronomy, the Netherlands' science community is ready to take the lead in exploring the last 400 million years of yet undiscovered astronomical mysteries.
lndustry treads the cutting edge of technical lnnovation
The technology required to launch a swarm of nano satellites to the Moon and make them cooperate not only creates potential scientific discovery, but also a new industrial push in both upstream and downstream space developments.
OLFAR will push space propulsion systems to their smallest and most inventive limits, bring futuristic pulsar based navigation to a new realm of possibility, make waves in large scale data processing and interferometry, and encourage nano satellite component miniaturization and standardization.
What's more, the concept of satellite swarms has a huge potential application for future low-risk, low initial investment space missions by applying interferometery to create a larger telescope than you could ever afford to launch in one go.
Outreach prickles the next generation's curiosity
Nano satellìtes Delfi-C3 and Delfi-n3Xt have given over 100 college and university students hands-on experience with real flight hardware and have encouraged many more to take on science and engineering studies.
Students world wide can track Delfi-C3's path across the sky via Orbitron software from www.stoff.pl. OLFAR will involve a long term build-up of these tiny satellites, giving thousands of students not only amazing design challenges, but bringing them along on a scientific journey of discovery.
Students currently far too young for university will be triggered by stories of what they can do in the future. For those who will have a hand in OLFAR, knowing that something they helped create is involved in a feat of extreme astronomical excellence will encourage them to spend the rest of their lives innovating and pushing the boundaries of current science and technology.
Individual Propulsion: independent to the moon!
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