AASC has developed a patented metal plasma thruster (MPT) for attitude keeping and orbit raising or lowering of small satellites. A vacuum arc generates a metal plasma plume that accelerates into space at 8.1 km/s – 23.5 km/s to generate thrust (10-15 μN/W). Different metals provide a range of Specific Impulse from 826 s (Pt) up to 2400 s (Al). A typical MPT uses molybdenum for an Isp of 1700 s and single impulse bit of 300 μNs with rep rate determining average power and thrust. The MPT uses solid metal fuel with no moving parts and operates using a 45 V Power Processor Unit (PPU).
Thousands of Nano- and Micro-Satellites will be launched into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) over the next decade, for resource/disaster management, weather and internet coverage. AASC’s MPTs provide a low-mass complement or alternative to other onboard propulsion for 3U – 100U SATS, especially for attitude keeping or orbital maneuvers.
The modular MPT may be scaled up/down for larger/smaller spacecraft or higher ΔV orbital changes (LEO-GEO etc.). The flexibility and performance of the MPT design gives mission engineers a variety of options to meet requirements for unique small SAT applications. A 1U thruster can provide a 12U satellite with 200 m/s of ΔV