December 6, 2021

Wire Service Canada

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A new electric motor has been tested to propel a satellite into space

He is the first to use iodine to convert electrical energy into ionic propulsion. It can become a xenon alternative and solve the problem of unwanted space.

Currently, a satellite is in orbit around the Earth that takes advantage of a new electric propulsion system to move through space. The vehicle, launched in 2020, is a miniature type of satellite called CubeSat, weighing about 20 kg, and is the first to use Iodine to convert electrical energy into ionic propulsion. The mission could pave the way for a new generation of smaller and cheaper spacecraft, according to an article in the magazine temper nature.

Compared to xenon, the main ionized fuel currently used in electric propulsion in space but rarely found in nature in addition to being very expensive, iodine is significantly more abundant and cheaper, and can also facilitate the refueling of found satellites. In Low Earth Orbit (LEO). In the future can Reduce the amount of space waste، Trust me.

Currently, most small Earth-orbiting satellites lack propellant, because the most common refueling systems are too expensive and too large to connect to these spacecraft. Without propulsion, these satellites remain in space, adding to the tens of thousands of debris. But spacecraft using iodine could make a difference. “Within 10 years, I hope that most of the satellite propulsion systems in low Earth orbit will use iodine – said Rafalsky. Nowadays, Space exploration is by no means sustainable Because, for example, it can’t get out of orbit easily“.

Rafalsky and his team designed an ionic propulsion system that expands inside a cube by about 10 centimeters per side—about half the size of the next miniature system, Ravalski added. Meanwhile, the person tested on the CubeSat as of November 6, 2020 has successfully completed a series of maneuvers. with 60% efficiency compared to 40% in xenon-like systems.

Rafalskyi sees great potential for iodine, but admits that there are still hurdles to overcome before he can reach his full potential. One of them lies in the fact that iodine corrosive Over time, the sensitive electronics inside the satellite can be destroyed. “There are still such obstacles, but there are also many engineering problems that need to be solved – said Rafalsky. But … once we prove that it can be solved and that the system can work in space, I think it will take off“.