NASA Calls for Proposals for Miniaturized Electrospray Propulsion Technologies

In a similar manner to ion thrusters, such as this one from the Deep Space-1 mission, electrospray technologies are also low-thrust methods, which might be useful for fine maneuvers of satellites. Photo Credit: NASA

In a similar manner to ion thrusters, such as this one from the Deep Space-1 mission, electrospray technologies are low-thrust methods of propulsion and might be useful for fine maneuvers of future satellites. Photo Credit: NASA

NASA’s Space Technology Program is calling for proposals to develop miniaturized electrospray propulsion technologies which could revolutionise the propulsion systems for small satellites.

Pictured with NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver in January 2012, Michael Gazarik (left) believes that miniaturized systems and electrospray propulsion hold the key to our future endeavors. Photo Credit: NASA

Pictured with NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver in January 2012, Michael Gazarik (left) believes that miniaturized systems and electrospray propulsion hold the key to our future endeavors. Photo Credit: NASA

Electrospray thrusters use electricity to energize material, then disperse a resulting liquid or aerosol through an emitter to generate thrust. Developing low-mass, lightweight microthruster technology has the potential to radically change propulsion capabilities of small satellites by allowing variable thrust propulsion, stabilization, and precision pinpointing. Such microthrusters might be of use for very fine pointing aboard future space observatories.

U.S. organizations, including NASA centers, government agencies, federally-funded research and development centers, educational institutions, industry and non-profit organizations, can submit ideas.

The solicitation covers two acquisition phases and involves a competitive selection process. During Phase 1, selected proposers will have 18 months to refine thruster designs, build prototype thruster systems, and conduct testing in flight-like environments. During Phase 2, the developed thruster will be integrated into a small spacecraft for an in-orbit demonstration. NASA expects to make up to three awards for Phase 1 proposals, with a total combined cost of about $5 million.

1 comment to NASA Calls for Proposals for Miniaturized Electrospray Propulsion Technologies

  • Karol

    This sounds suspiciously like the NASA Space Technology Program is promoting highly advanced research of the type that we are so often told is essential to re-invigorate our lackluster manufacturing base and keep us at the forefront in the 21st century technology-driven world. Obviously, something needs to be done about this. Someone needs to inform the NASA-bashing howler monkeys