The European Space Agency has awarded Dawn Aerospace 200,000 euros GSTP (General Support Technology Program) funding to increase the performance of the firm’s green bi-propellant thrusters for satellites.
Dawn has received more than 10 million euros in orders for satellite propulsion systems during the last 12 months, specifically the B20 and B1 green propellant thrusters and associated turnkey systems — 33 of these thrusters on eight spacecraft are already on-orbit, with over 100 more thrusters either delivered to customers, or in production. All current systems are in LEO.
The GSTP funding will go toward better understanding and improving thermal management to reduce stress on the combustion chamber materials, enabling longer-duration burns, higher total propellant throughput, and potentially higher specific impulse.
Following the demonstration of their key technologies in January 2021, The company has secured contracts with several, smallsat, constellation builders. This includes Blue Canyon’s X-SAT Saturn-class smallsats…
…Pixxel’s hyperspectral imaging constellation….
… and the Indonesian Space Agency’s (LAPAN) early-tsunami warning constellation.
With 100 1N and 20N thrusters on order — forecast to triple in the coming year — Dawn’s green bi-propellant technology is on track to become the second most prolific chemical propulsion type on orbit, after hydrazine — the toxic fuel Dawn is working to replace.
“To support deep space missions like GTO to GEO transfers, or lunar and Mars insertions, we need to deliver large delta-v maneuvers,” said Stefan Powell, Dawn CEO and CTO. “To optimize our thrusters for these high-demand applications, we are increasing the performance and qualification levels of our already very successful products. We have already demonstrated that some of the key changes to the thruster are indeed viable. Early testing shows that there is a lot more performance to squeeze out of our design. This funding will enable us to rapidly explore various different design options, after which we will qualify the most promising improvements for our customers.”
Based in the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United States, Dawn Aerospace’s mission is to enable the next generation of space users by providing dramatically more scalable and sustainable ways to access and move around in space. It is now a leading supplier of turnkey green propulsion systems for NanoSat, MicroSat, ESPA, and ESPA Grande-class satellites. Dawn is also active in reusable launch vehicle development, with an active test flight program of the Mk-II Aurora spaceplane demonstrator, with 30+ flights completed.