Chemical Propulsion System for Small Satellites (EPSS)

Satellite Missions & Development Projects

The number of small satellites (below 150 kg) performing operations in space is growing exponentially (from 180 launches in 2014 to an expected 630 launches in 2018). However, some critical subsystems and technologies are not yet fully developed. A high-performance propulsion system is needed in order to cover the full market potential of small satellites. NanoAvionics is the first small satellite company in Europe to address this acute problem of the need for a low-cost solution to small satellite propulsion. The European Commission recognizes the company as being the one with the most innovative ideas in the world.

The purpose of phase 1 of the EPSS project is to undertake a feasibility study concerning NanoAvionic’s novel propulsion system. The potential of the proposed product is recognized worldwide and the awarded grant demonstrates the robustness of the business idea. Typically, NanoAvionics’ product would be necessary for Earth Observation and for nano and micro class communication satellites.

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The proposed system from NanoAvionics makes use of a “green”, non-toxic fuel, replacing the hydrazine-based propellant used by large-scale satellite technologies and corresponds to the European Space Agency’s (ESA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Clean Space Initiative.

The novel solution opens up a wide range of possibilities for cost reduction and safety while simultaneously empowering new space start-ups with affordable space propulsion systems.

The initial prototype is an enabling and highly integral plug and play design. The in-orbit testing campaign will take place along with the LituanicaSAT-2 mission at the end of 2016 in order to obtain flight heritage. Prototype components such as valves, fuel tanks and the propellant management system are designed and manufactured solely in Europe. The final product will be scalable according to the client satellite mission requirements and will be also compatible with the CubeSat standard and suitable for satellites below 150 kg.

EPSS propulsion system prototype

EPSS propulsion system prototype

Project Details

EU Horizon2020
  • Beginning of the project: 2016-03-01
  • Expected document submission for Phase 2: 2016-10-13
  • Project topic: Space-SME-2015-1 – SME Instrument
  • Purpose of the project: to undertake a feasibility study concerning NanoAvionic’s novel propulsion system
  • Funding scheme: European Commission Horizon 2020 SME inst. phase 1
  • EC project reference: EPSS H2020 SME-1