Odysseus Space to collaborate with Taiwanese university on pulse plasma thruster

Electrical propulsion under test in vacuum chamber at NCKU. Image courtesy of NCKU/ODYSSEUS.

Taiwanese company Odysseus Space has just announced a collaboration with Taiwan’s  National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) to develop a Pulse Plasma Thruster (PPT) propulsion system for small satellites, known as ARGO.

This is a joint R&D project funded by both Oydsseus Space and the Taiwanese Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), and amounts to 4.5m NDT (USD 146,306), and is part of Taiwan’s new Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

The two parties will begin developing a prototype for the thurster, after having completed a pre-study phase earlier this year. ARGO is based on a core technology developed at the NCKU, and carries an efficient and low consumption single Pulse Plasma Thruster (PPT), which delivers sufficient thrust to extend the duration of a small satellite mission in orbit, or by de-orbiting this satellite when its mission is over. It also acts as an attitude control system, providing additional pointing accuracy during most of the mission life time.

“We are very glad to have concluded this partnership with NCKU,” said Jordan Vannitsen, CEO of Odysseus Space. “I have myself graduated from NCKU and I know first-hand the level of expertise we can expect, as well as the access to top-level facilities. We are very excited to start this project, as this is a first step toward more collaboration between the space private industry and universities in Taiwan on innovative technologies for space applications. This is a model we want to keep developing.”

“There is strong interest for this kind of compact and innovative propulsion systems from the small satellite community, including ourselves. We want to investigate whether this technology, which can achieve fine attitude control, could be part of our long-term plan of prospecting asteroids for space resources exploitation and utilization. Whatever the outcome, it is already important for us to set up this kind of partnership on small-scale projects in order to pave the way for larger ones, involving multiple international partners. This is a first trial for our R&D activities in Taiwan related to propulsion systems and we are very hopeful it will lead to many more. We are already in discussion with other universities on some other collaborations.”

In addition to ARGO, Odysseus Space is currently developing inter-satellite optical communications for small sats, as well as autonomous Guidance and Navigation Control technology with applications for small satellites swarms or constellations in Earth Orbit or in deep space.

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