The researchers tested electric iodine propulsion engines for satellites in orbit

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a7816da12c0370e - The researchers tested electric iodine propulsion engines for satellites in orbit

the new electric propulsion engine recently tested in orbit uses an alternative propellant: iodine. The in orbit test was conducted by a company called thrustme, using iodine as propellant. Clustme believes its engine can be used to make satellites cheaper and more efficient than using existing technology

the main advantage of using iodine is that it is abundant and cheaper than xenon. Another advantage of iodine is that it can be stored as a solid without pressure. Before on orbit test, iodine engine was used for ground test, which shows that this technology is feasible for small-scale engine of spacecraft

in its in orbit test, the company’s researchers used iodine to power a 44 pound CubeSat satellite. The test engine, called npt30-i2, was launched into orbit on November 6, 2020. When in orbit, it successfully maneuvered, and the researchers found that iodine could achieve higher ionization efficiency than xenon

The researchers tested electric iodine propulsion engines for satellites in orbit

clustme believes that in addition to all the benefits mentioned above, iodine based engines can be much smaller and simpler than the engines currently used on satellites. Smaller satellite engines mean more space for payloads and instruments on a chassis of the same size. Simpler engines will mean fewer chances of failure. The main reason why the iodine motor can be significantly smaller is that since iodine can be stored as a solid, there will be no need for a high-pressure liquefied gas tank

after its successful demonstration, the next step in developing the test plan of the propulsion system can be carried out. While preparing for orbit testing with small-scale engines, researchers are also developing more powerful versions. In addition, team members are conducting an extensive ground endurance test program to explore the limits of the technology

due to the existence of SpaceX and other companies, the price of launching satellites continues to decline. It is expected that a large number of satellites will be put into orbit in the next decade. Clustme hopes to find ways to make satellites more economical and effective, allowing more exploration and analysis of our planet and universe. Although the project performed well, the researchers noted that there were some challenges they had to overcome

one challenge is the corrosivity of iodine, and ceramics are needed to protect satellite components. Another challenge is to improve the responsiveness of iodine engines to match current xenon components. Such technologies can have a significant impact on all types of industries

The researchers tested electric iodine propulsion engines for satellites in orbit(1)

maybe in the future, companies like SpaceX and others who want to surround the earth with satellite clusters to provide Internet connection can take advantage of the new propulsion system. This will help make satellites cheaper, which in turn will make services cheaper and enable more people to use it. Recently, SpaceX put another 53 Starlink satellites into orbit and plans to add tens of thousands of satellites around the earth