2019.B.3.2. Flight data of the IFM Nano Thruster on recent satellite applications


Tony Schönherr (1)
David Krejci (1)
Alexander Reissner (1)
Bernhard Seifert

  1. Enpulsion, Austria
  2. FOTEC, Austria




electric propulsion, FEEP, flight data, thruster, mission


The IFM Nano Thruster is a high-specific-impulse liquid-metal Field Emission Electric Propulsion (FEEP) system that has been flown on multiple space missions ranging from 3U Cubesats to 100 kg class satellites. The core component of the thruster is a crown-shaped porous metal ion emitter featuring 28 ion emission sites, with propellant supplied passively by capillary forces, obviating the need for pressurized tanks. The metal propellant used is solid during integration and launch, and is only liquefied in orbit, thus significantly simplifying handling and integration. The thruster itself is a fully contained package of less than 1U including power electronics, with applications ranging from orbit control, formation flight control, attitude control to orbit raising, and deorbiting. This paper presents the testing, integration, and flight data of IFM Nano Thrusters integrated in a few satellites. The paper presents the operation concept when employed in a power-limited spacecraft and compares modelled thrust to change in spacecraft orbital data.


  • Download slides in PDF format here (<3 MB)

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