Novel Thruster "Less is more"
The large number of satellites in (mega) constellations limits the acceptable unit price. It is common understanding that those prices can only be achieved by using novel design techniques (e.g. more integrated software approaches), manufacturing techniques, but also qualification procedures and standards.
"Component and sub-system production in a non-traditional manner with elements of mass production."
Neither does the mass production infrastructure for satellites larger than CubeSats exist, nor the respective qualification standards which by definition have to be much less stringent in order to comply with cost requirements.
Nowadays, many EP start-ups develop novel technologies which partly differ significantly from established EP technologies. The reduction in size allowed high specific impulse values but low thrust levels. As there is a performance gap in the regime 1-10mN in CubeSat based EP systems, some EP developers offer EP clustering solutions to scale up the overall thrust level.
However, the severe cost limitation imposes constraints on the total number of propulsion systems on the satellite while they still have to provide the overall thrust performance
Our space propulsion technology has a very simple design which makes it easier to reduce cost by mass production means. And it does not need an external electron emitter to neutralize the exhaust particle beam. But the major advantage is that, once reduced to CubeSat compatible dimensions, we expect to fill this performance gap.
On the video one can see simulated neutral gas inside the thruster. On the right hand side cold gas is entering the thruster. The thrust direction of the thruster is towards the left and one can see that with the gas moving towards the exit of the thruster the velocity in the thrust direction increases, which can be seen by colour change of the particles from red to yellow. And thus providing thrust.
Experiments will never become completely obsolete but will be reduced to a minimum. As in the automotive industry, a rethinking will take several years. High-credibility simulation processes will be partially introduced, and the proportion of computer simulations will increase continuously. Further steps will be necessary to achieve this goal.
Similar to the development of the finite element method in the automotive industry, it will be possible over the years to drastically reduce experimental time.
The acceptance of simulations will be the biggest hurdle in the long run.
SPARC Industries SARL
SPARC Industries SARL was founded in Luxembourg in November 2017. It combines keywords such as: Start Up, Innovation, Space Propulsion, Plasma Simulation, Research and Development, Pioneering, Innovation Landscape Luxembourg.
Initially developing compact plasma-based neutron generators, two technologies were added later to the portfolio of developments: a satellite engine as well as the simulation of the plasma physics in both the neutron generators as well as the satellite engines. This constellation maximizes the impact of technological synergies and technological similarities.
SPARC Industries is certified as a research institution in Luxembourg.