Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


EPSS Report Summary

Project ID: 720041

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EPSS (Enabling Chemical Propulsion System for the Growing Small Satellite Market)

Reporting period: 2016-03-01 to 2016-08-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

• What is the problem/issue being addressed?
NanoAvionics is addressing the problem that there are no small satellite propulsion technologies on the market that would be both, cost-effective and high performing. Most of currently available high performing propulsion systems rely on classical technological solutions with around 90% based on chemical propulsion. All chemical propellants are toxic, while hydrazine and its derivatives are also highly carcinogenic. Other conventional technologies, such as cold gas based propulsion systems lack required performance capabilities, while some of the recently developed or still in development ones, such as electric and electrolysis based propulsion systems, are costly and complex, hence, diminishing their suitability for the growing small satellite market. Additionally, small satellite propulsion systems are still designed using large satellite components that are expensive and take long time periods to manufacture, hard to ingrate each other. NanoAvionics tackling all these issues with its proposed propulsion system.
• Why is it important for society?
EPSS utilizes a non-toxic green propellant, which undergoes more lenient export, storage and transportation regulations and procedures than conventional toxic chemical propellants. Several worldwide initiatives are released to prohibit hydrazine which is currently widely in use, such as REACH program as well as the biggest space agencies (NASA and ESA) expressed a firm support to move away from hydrazine towards non-toxic and non-carcinogenic options. Overall, NanoAvionics propulsion system enables lower product life-cycle costs due to reduced structural weight, complexity and toxicity, lower transportation storage and fueling operation cost as well as higher overall performance, making it an optimal choice for small satellite operators. The developed system offers high overall performance – it enables orbital maneuvering, accurate attitude and orientation control, drag compensation, long system lifespans, formation flying, debris avoidance and de-orbiting. For the last two features numerous guidelines have been issued by Inter-Agency Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) and UN Space Debris Mitigation. They agree and recommend to use propulsion-based methods which allow satellite end-of-life de-orbiting to reduce space debris. Moreover, these features allow satellites to conduct earth observation, communication, weather forecasting and space research applications in LEO. The society will be able to receive the data from satellites easier and cheaper. When data from satellites becomes cheaper more people will be able to monitor their agricultural activities and improve their outputs, it will be possible to know exact weather forecast and be more prepared for storms, tornados etc. and there are many more uses to improve our society life.
• What are the overall objectives?
The objective of this project is to develop an advanced low-cost and high-performance green propulsion system, and prepare for commercialization and scaling.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

NanoAvionics performed market research to confirm that small satellites propulsion market has potential. Study validated that there is a fast growing market of small satellites and therefore also for propulsion systems for small satellites. The market research confirmed the initial business proposition that the Small satellite propulsion system manufacturing market is growing very fast, from 22 m EUR in 2016 to 196 m EUR in 2019. Participation in several global small satellite conferences and meetings held with industry players confirmed that there are no similar solutions on the market and there is a growing interest from large and small satellite manufacturers and satellite operators for NanoAvionics’s green propulsion system for small satellites. A Freedom to Operate (FTO) analysis concluded that NanoAvionics has the full freedom to further commercialize the solution. Strategic patents applications are in preparation to protect the IPR of NanoAvionics during further commercialization.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

NanoAvionics is one of the several startups which supports and helps to grow for European Space sector. The propulsion system which is currently developed by the company will reduce hazardous waste in space and will increase accessibility of space for more companies, universities and space agencies (which may create new services for society from gathered data from space) since the introduced system will be cheaper than current solutions. In addition to above mentioned impacts company will create new working places in the European Union, which includes not only business development or engineering but also manufacturing jobs.

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