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John O | July 2017

NanoAvionics launches CubeSat that uses liquid chemical propulsion

NanoAvionics, a Lithuania-based developer of small satellite and CubeSat systems and platforms, has announced the launch of the 3U LithuanicaSAT-2, a CubeSat with a novel liquid chemical propulsion system, into polar sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 508 kilometers.


NanoAvionics has launched a CubeSat with a novel propulsion system. (NanoAvionics)


According to a press release from the company, the CubeSat was delivered into orbit by India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV-C38, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at the end of June.


The launch will demonstrate in orbit the potential for NanoAvionics’ EPSS (Enabling Chemical Propulsion System for Small Satellites) and the company hopes that this will kickstart the commercialization of the technology.


“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.


EPSS allows the LithuanicaSAT-2 to perform orbital maneuvers, correct altitude and orientation, avoid collisions, and prolong its time in orbit by a factor of four. The system runs on a non-toxic monopropellant based on an ammonium dinitramide (AND) blend.


“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,” the announcement continued. “Furthermore, the micro-thruster assembly contains catalyst bed pre-heater, allowing a maximum thrust of 0.3N.”


NanoAvionics also believes that this propulsion system could save as much as 80 percent on relaunch costs.


While it is in orbit, the LithuanicaSAT-2 will also participate in the QB50 space mission directed by the European Commission.


“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.

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