Phase Four wins U.S. Air Force contract for electric propulsion of satellites

(eight April 2021 – Part 4) Part 4, the creator of the radio-frequency thruster for satellite tv for pc propulsion, introduced in the present that it has secured a contract with the U.S. Drive for the corporate’s propellant-agnostic Maxwell thruster.

Beneath the contract, Maxwell will make the most of iodine, a brand new different gas, to switch the expensive, legacy electrical propulsion propellants in high-performance business and protection functions.

phase 1

Beneath a brand new contract with the U.S. Air Drive, Part 4’s propellant-agnostic Maxwell thruster (pictured right here) will make the most of iodine, a brand new different gas, to switch the expensive, legacy electrical propulsion propellants in high-performance business and protection functions. (courtesy: Part 4)

“There’s a rising want for extra choices for superior electrical in-space propulsion, to offer satellites with higher maneuverability and operability in house at an inexpensive price, and propellant flexibility may present new choices for in-space propulsion,” mentioned Dr. Eckhardt, Electrical Propulsion Lead on the U.S. Air Drive Analysis Laboratory.

The hallmark of Part 4’s versatile RF Thruster expertise is its versatile structure, which may make the most of conventional noble gases and new different sources starting from iodine to water to air. Along with the Air Drive, Part 4 will show main new benefits that the Maxwell iodine-fueled engine can present to massive satellite tv for pc constellations, together with:

  • Vastly decrease propellant prices
  • Elevated satellite tv for pc vary and lifelong on orbit, as a result of capability to retailer extra gas onboard, as iodine is 4x extra dense than conventional xenon propellants
  • Decrease threat of particles incidents, as a result of elimination of high-pressure storage
  • Elevated sustainability, as a result of capability to decommission and responsibly eliminate satellites at their finish of life

“Iodine is a promising propellant, on account of its densely storable nature, lack of high-pressure parts, and efficiency potential, in comparison with conventional noble fuel propellants like xenon,” mentioned Part 4 CTO, Umair Siddiqui. “Extra environment friendly smallsat propulsion techniques, corresponding to an iodine RF thruster, will allow new missions in distant sensing, house surveillance, communications and different areas.”

Part 4’s undertaking acquired a number of letters of assist from trade and authorities businesses that anticipate iodine-fueled propulsion engines will decrease prices and create new alternatives for business and protection satellite tv for pc operators.

Part 4 can be working with different authorities clients to additional develop the Maxwell RF thruster to extend efficiency for long-duration missions the place vital maneuverability is required. Part 4’s RF thruster is easier, smaller, lighter and cheaper than legacy electrical propulsion techniques, on account of technical improvements and the usage of low-cost RF electronics developed by the smartphone and wi-fi charging industries. These enhancements will allow authorities and business house operators to deploy vital mission capabilities in house at a decrease price and quicker cadence than at present attainable.

“Because the house trade quickly between the , Moon and Mars, we’d like applied sciences that decrease the associated fee, shorten lead instances and enhance the standard of mass-manufactured house {hardware},” mentioned Part 4 CEO Beau Jarvis. “With our RF Thruster and assist from the U.S. Air Drive, Part 4 is working to deliver the trade decrease price, mass-manufactured, high-performance satellite tv for pc engines.”

About Part 4

Part 4 is a disruptive supplier of easy electrical propulsion (EP) options for small satellites. The corporate was based in 2015 to deal with the calls for of next-generation satellite tv for pc constellations and to speed up the development of its radio-frequency thruster (RFT). The Part 4 RFT represents a revolutionary new structure that realizes decrease price, mass-manufacturability, miniaturized electronics, and propellant agnosticism over incumbent applied sciences, with out compromising efficiency. In 2021 Part 4’s Maxwell turn- propulsion system achieved flight heritage and is now being commonly utilized by small satellite tv for pc operators.

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