The Rapidly-Changing Satellite Industry Needs a Better Propulsion System. So We Made One.
Satellites Are Getting Smaller and Cheaper
We’re at the dawn of a new era in satellites. Most of the 1,500 satellites currently in space are large machines that cost upwards of $300 million each. Driven by the large drop in cost to launch a satellite, companies are now launching many small, inexpensive satellites instead of a few large ones. By having a blanket of small satellites, we can send the Internet to hard-to-reach places and expand satellite-powered observation to improve our understanding of the planet we call home.
Current Propulsion Systems Are Too Expensive for Small Satellites
All satellites need propulsion, but the traditional systems, designed in the 1960s, were meant for large satellites. They rely on highly toxic fuels and require expensive materials. Just fueling the system costs $500,000, in addition to the cost of the propulsion system itself! For a large $300 million satellite, this high cost was a drop in the bucket. But for cost-sensitive small satellites, the old technology is far too expensive.
Our System Performs Twice as Well for Half the Price
Our primary competitor has developed a green, chemical propulsion system that also eliminates the $500,000 fueling cost for traditional toxic fuels. However, they have sacrificed performance and hardware cost to do it. Their propulsion systems in this class cost $1 million and have a specific impulse (Isp) of only 206 seconds (Isp is like miles per gallon for rocket engines), much lower than the conventional toxic systems they are trying to replace. They also use an aggressive, hot-burning fuel that requires their thrusters to be made from platinum, an obviously expensive choice.
Our price for a similar propulsion system is $500,000 and clocks in at an Isp of 320 seconds. Our system also offers 15% higher propellant density. Taken together, this means that we offer almost twice the maneuvering capability in a given volume for half the cost of the only competing “green” propulsion system. By the same metric, we offer 20% better performance than toxic systems. We don't need to use platinum to build our rockets, and we use modern automated manufacturing, thus reducing production cost by 90%.