MicroThrust is a European project developing MEMS-enabled micropropulsion systems for small satellites. The MicroThrust consortium is funded by the European Commission’s 7th Framework Program and consists of academic and industrial and SME partners from Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Sweden and the Netherlands.
The primary objective of the MicroThrust Consortium is to develop a very small, yet highly performant electrical micropropulsion system, that, combined with advanced nano- or micro-satellites, will create a spacecraft that can fly to any location in the Earth-Moon system and will even allow missions to nearby planets and asteroids for a fraction of the time and costs now needed.
Micro Electro Mechanical System (MEMS) technology is the enabling technology that offers a quantum leap in terms of miniaturisation of propulsion systems, allowing satellites weighing only a few kg to perform large delta-V maneuvers with a propulsion system with a mass fraction of 10 to at most 30%. In addition, the novel idea of a modular propulsion system, where the number of modules can be varied in order to meet as many applications and requirements as possible, greatly enhances the versatility of the thruster system. The technological breakthrough offered by the MicroThrust program has the potential to elevate the competence level of European space search well beyond the limits