Iodine-powered ion drive satellite launched for the first time

Tests of the first small satellite with an ion engine powered by iodine have been completed, allowing it to maneuver and change its flight path.

A common problem in all small spacecraft is the lack of propulsion systems required for flight control and post-life disposal. As a solution, the startup Thrustme, with the support of the European Agency, has developed and successfully tested a modular ionic electric motor NPT30-I2, which is much smaller and simpler than conventional systems, and can also be controlled by on-board algorithms..

Instead of traditional liquid fuel, it uses solid iodine, which, when heated, turns into a gaseous state, bypassing the liquid phase. Such a feature of the crystal does not require valves or channels to move the jet fuel, and will allow the use of any geometric shape. for storage.

When the engine is started, the system heats up iodine, converting it into a gas, the molecules of which then receive an electric charge and are accelerated by the power system, creating a thrust of up to 1.1 mN and a specific impulse lasting up to 40 minutes.

Iodine-powered ion drive satellite launched for the first time

Beihangkonshi-1 satellite on which NPT30-I2 was tested.

This setup can be used on small satellites to correct altitude and reentry and combustion upon completion of a mission. For the same purpose, satellites with wooden cladding are already being developed in Japan..

text: Ilya Bauer, photo: Thrustme

Iodine-powered ion drive satellite launched for the first time

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