2019.B.4.1. REGULUS electric propulsion module and its integration into UniSat-7


Alessia Gloder (1)
Nicolas Bellomo (1)
Marco Manente (1)
Fabio Trezzolani (1)
Elena Toson (1)
Antonio Selmo (1)
Riccardo Mantellato (1)
Lorenzo Cappellini (1)
Matteo Duzzi (1)
Mirko Magarotto (2)
Daniele Pavarin (1)

  1. T4i, Italy
  2. University of Padova – DII/CISAS, Italy




CubeSat, electric plasma propulsion, microsatellite, nanosatellite, REGULUS, UniSat-7


The market of small and micro satellites has become increasingly common in recent years. To allow different and so far unconceivable mission scenarios, the need for satellite platforms as small as CubeSats to have a versatile, cost effective, compact and reliable propulsion system on board is becoming evident.

REGULUS is a complete electric propulsion unit operated with iodine propellant that is under development at T4i, a Spin-Off of the University of Padua. It has been designed specifically for Cubesat standards satellite platforms ranging from 6U up to 24U and for Cubesat carriers. REGULUS is based on a Magnetically Enhanced RF Plasma Thruster and its main features are: (i) a simple architecture consisting in a discharge chamber, an antenna and a magnetic field generator, (ii) no need for neutralizer and grids, (iii) no need for the PPU to provide high voltage DC output. Thanks to these characteristics, REGULUS is a good candidate as propulsion system for small satellites, providing long lifetime at a reduced cost. It is a versatile unit able to work with different propellants (such as Ar, Kr, Xe, Air, CO2) without significant modifications to the system geometry.

REGULUS will perform an In-Orbit-Demonstration (IoD) onboard UniSat-7, a microsatellite operated by the Italian company GAUSS. The launch will take place during the first semester of 2020 using a Soyuz-2 launch vehicle. In UniSat-7, the Magnetic Enhanced Plasma Thruster is integrated with all electronics, fluidic line, iodine tank and structures into a 1.5 U envelope, with a total mass of 2.5 kg. In this 1.5 U version, REGULUS will provide 0.6 mN thrust and 600 s of specific impulse at 50 W of input power, with a total impulse up to 3000 Ns. The complete UniSat-7 mission objectives are to inject several satellites into a 450 km SSO orbit and to act as a technology demonstrator, testing specific payloads which will be used in subsequent GAUSS CubeSat missions, as REGULUS. During the overall mission, several operations will be performed (variation of altitude for the imaging payload operations, the simulation of orbital operations to spread CubeSats injection into different orbits, UniSat-7 decommissioning etc.). In particular, REGULUS objective is to demonstrate the advanced capabilities of Unisat-7 with electric propulsion on board. Moreover, REGULUS will also prove UniSat-7 capabilities of drag compensation and orbital maneuvers.


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