Orbion Space Technology (Orbion), a company that develops
plasma thrusters for satellites announced a contract award from NASA‘s Science Mission Directorate. Under the contract, Orbion will develop advanced propulsion system components that will help spacecraft to rendezvous with, orbit, and conduct in-situ exploration of planets,
moons, and other small bodies in the solar system. The NASA contract will focus on increasing the reliability of spacecraft thrusters while decreasing the cost to produce and fly them on space missions.
“More than 10,000 small satellites will be launched into space in the next 5-7 years. While the US has been a space-faring nation for 70 years, we are just now learning how to build spacecraft and their components on assembly lines like automobiles instead of like fragile science-fair experiments,” says Lyon B. King, Orbion’s CEO, “Orbion specializes in mass manufacturing spacecraft hardware and we are honored that NASA has selected Orbion to develop critical technology for solar system exploration.”
The award is administered by the NASA Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program.
In the first phase of the project, Orbion will utilize new 3D printing technology to create extremely high-temperature heating elements that can reduce the complexity and cost of critical spacecraft thruster components. The components will be tested in space-simulation chambers on the ground to prove their performance and reliability. In a follow-on, the second phase of the contract Orbion anticipates integrating the new heaters with their commercial plasma propulsion system for demonstration in space.
To learn more about Orbion, visit their website.