- Vaida Karaliunaite
On June 23, the first liquid chemical propulsion propelled nano-spacecraft – a 3U LituanicaSAT-2 developed by NanoAvionics – was launched into polar sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 508 km.
It was delivered by India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C38, taking off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in eastern India.
LituanicaSAT-2 mission is a significant milestone for NanoAvionics, as the fast-growing commercial grade platform provider will be able to offer one more flight-proven spacecraft for its clients, now advanced with high-impulse density propulsion system. The in-orbit demonstration of EPSS – Enabling Chemical Propulsion System for Small Satellites – will kickstart its commercialization process, establishing NanoAvionics as one of the leading developers in affordable and superior propulsion systems for small satellites.
“Currently, there are no Smallsat propulsion solutions available on the market that are low in cost and possess the similar level of functionality and technological adaptability,” said Vytenis Buzas, CEO and Co-Founder of NanoAvionics.
The EPSS empowers LituanicaSAT-2 to perform high impulse orbital maneuvers attain the correct attitude and orientation, avoid collisions, compensate for drag, and ultimately prolong its orbital lifetime by a factor of four. It runs on a non-toxic “green” monopropellant, based on ammonium dinitramide (ADN) blend which outperforms hydrazine, the most commonly used propellant.
To manage thermal properties of the propellant in space, the propulsion system includes pressurized tanks’ active thermal management system, as well as propellant management systems to ensure the smooth flow of blend. Furthermore, the micro-thruster assembly contains catalyst bed pre-heater, allowing a maximum thrust of 0.3N.
The propulsion system has the potential to unlock massive relaunch savings for satellite operators, by an estimate up to 80 percent. This will help to accelerate space start-ups and science missions, thus adhering to NanoAvionics’ goal of making space accessible to a wide range of organizations around the globe.
Besides testing the innovative prototype propulsion system for small satellites, LituanicaSAT-2 is also participating in the QB50 space mission – a constellation of 50 CubeSats built by institutions globally. It is led by the Von Karman Institute (VKI) for fluid dynamics (Belgium), under the European Commission’s research and innovation program FP7 (2007-2013).
The scientific aim of QB50 is to carry out atmospheric research within the lower thermosphere – the least explored layer of the atmosphere – at an altitude between 200 and 500 kilometers. The contribution of the LituanicaSAT-2 is to accomplish the molecular Oxygen measurements Flux-Φ-Probe Experiment (FIPEX).
“The EPSS has already gained attention from a number of major satellite manufacturing companies and there are ongoing negotiations with undisclosed pilot customers. Based on LituanicaSAT-2 experience, the EPSS will be commercially available early next year,” said Vytenis.
The EPSS performance data collected over the next two months will be published by NanoAvionics in a mission case study.
Contact for more information:
Vytenis Buzas, CEO