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March 3rd, 2016

NASA Bets On Busek's BET-100 Miniature Cubesat Propulsion System... Electrospray Fits NASA's Needs Today   

Busek BET-100uN Electrospray Propulsion System (Cubesat frame in background)

[Satnews] Busek today announced that its BET-100 miniature cubesat propulsion system has been selected for a $1.6 million NASA award. The contract is sponsored by the Small Spacecraft Technology Program within NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), and carries a total value up to $2.3 million.

Busek’s Family of Electrospray Propulsion Solutions – BET-1mN (left), BET-100uN (right), BET-LISA (background)

Nathaniel Demmons, Director of Electrospray Propulsion at Busek said, “We feel the NASA award is a real validation of our approach, and there’s strong Industry interest for this system. The BET-100 micronewton-class thruster has a modular design and low power needs, making it excellent choice for a range of small spacecraft missions”.

NASA’s Commercialization Readiness Program identifies and advances the highest value technologies for spaceflight, the BET-100 now being a candidate for a Pathfinder Technology Demonstrator space mission. NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley will lead the project in collaboration with NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. The Busek micro-propulsion system will enable unprecedented in-space maneuverability for cubesats and small satellites.

World’s First Flight Qualified Electrospray Thrusters aboard ESA's LISA Pathfinder

Busek developed the World’s first flight qualified electrospray thrusters, presently aboard the European Space Agency’s LISA Pathfinder mission (AKA NASA ST-7). The firm designed, manufactured and demonstrated over 3,500 hours of operation prior to delivering eight flight units to NASA’s JPL in 2008. LISA Pathfinder launched in December 2015; the performance of all eight LISA Pathfinder electrospray systems has been verified by internal instruments as well as the spacecraft’s reaction wheels. 

Vlad Hruby, President of Busek said, “We’ve successfully demonstrated the core technology in space, and now Busek is packing greater capabilities into ever smaller, highly efficient form-factors. We look forward to working with NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, Glenn Research Center, and Ames Research Center.

Busek Co. Inc. is a developer and manufacturer of high performance space propulsion systems. The firm’s satellite products include highly efficient solar electric propulsion systems such as Hall thrusters, electrospray thrusters, radio frequency ion thrusters, and pulsed plasma thrusters, in addition to green monopropellant thrusters.  Busek’s expertise across multiple space propulsion disciplines enables it to provide solutions to specific mission requirements.