tech track papers

Categories: 2018, Technology Test Updates

Results from Flight Qualification of Accion Systems’ TILE 500-class Ion Electrospray Propulsion System

The current satellite industry demands proven, scalable in-space propulsion technologies and is projected to see a dramatic increase in satellite manufacturing and launch over the next decade. The industry has yet to see a single proven, scalable propulsion technology that’s well suited for satellites of all sizes. Scalable ion electrospray propulsion has been developed to achieve high thrust density and efficiency for satellites weighing 1 kg to 200 kg and has applications for much larger satellites as well. Test results from the flight qualification of Accion System’s TILE 500-class ion electrospray propulsion system are presented here. Our TILE 500 product line is a next-generation ion engine that uses a liquid propellant to provide on the order of 120 m/s delta-V to small satellites from 1 to 2 kg. This same technology can be easily scaled to accommodate 200 kg satellites, on account of the modular nature of technology. By design and as verified through flight qualification, the present generation of the TILE 500 system produces on the order of 150 – 300 uN of thrust at 9 W and 1500 s Isp. A single TILE 500 module fits in a 1/3 U volume and provides around 100 Ns of impulse. Vibration and thermal vacuum environmental testing were performed to NASA GEVS levels in accordance with industry standards. To meet the high volumes of small satellites projected to launch in the near future, our qualifying tests aimed to vet issues specifically in manufacturability, robustness, lifetime and design for test. This paper discusses our requirements, system design, and interface details, and results from flight-level qualification testing.