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.