Satnews Daily
February 26th, 2019

The Morpheus Space NanoFEEP Propulsion System Successfully Tested in Space

Company logo with NanoFEEP (left) and MultiFEEP (right) pictured.
Morpheus Space has successfully ignited the world's smallest ion beam thruster on the "UWE-4" smallsat.

Four of the thumb-sized thrusters are located on UWE-4, the 1 kg. smallsat of the University of Würzburg. This enabled the Germany-based company to operate the first electric thruster in this satellite size in space.

Artistic rendition of the UWE-4 smallsat on orbit. Courtesy of the University of Würzburg.

The primary objective of the satellite mission is to test the propulsion system in orbit in order to obtain space qualification, the final and most important milestone. The innovative satellite propulsion system — called NanoFEEP — provides mobility to the most commonly used smallsats in the commercial space industry.

Mobility is the most crucial capability for satellites that is necessary to secure a sustainable space environment for humankind. So far, the control of the large networks of shoebox-sized satellites is non-existent or very limited at best. This means that the prevention of collisions with each other or with existing space debris becomes in the majority of cases impossible.

In addition, space debris will continue to grow exponentially through the thousands of newly planned satellites over the next few years. This could potentially reach a point where LEO will become unusable and space based services become unavailable for decades or even centuries. Morpheus Space offers satellite operators and manufacturers the opportunity to protect themselves against collisions and to return the decommissioned satellites into earth's atmosphere.

Morpheus Space GmbH was founded in 2018 and produces ion beam thrusters for smallsats. Morpheus Space is a spin-off from the chair of space systems of the University of Technology Dresden, Germany.

Executive Comment

Daniel Bock, the CEO of Morpheus Space, said the entire team has worked extremely hard for this success. With the successful demonstration of the company's thrusters, Morpheus Space is approaching the firm's biggest goal: giving the smallsats the much-needed mobility and thereby keeping the orbit of Earth clean and access to space a continued privilege of humankind.