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Space propulsion startup Accion Systems begins taking orders

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February 20
10:17 PM 2016

Space propulsion firm Accion Systems will start receiving orders for micro-propulsion systems. The space propulsion startup has commenced selling miniature electrospray ion engines

Accion Systems has designed micro-propulsion systems for CubeSats and other small satellites. Its electrospray ion engines generate thrust by accelerating charged particles at a very high speed. 

Tech Crunch describes Accion's engine as a size of a small coin. It used 480 microscopic nozzles that make use of capillary action directing propellant out of the engine. Capillary action-enabled liquid flows into narrow spaces. It doesn't need any support of external force like gravity. Another example of capillary motion is a straw in a glass of water. When a straw is placed inside of glass, then water gets into straw and fills it upto the level of water in the glass.

Established in 2013, Accion Systems has closed the $2 million seed round. It has also received a $3 million contract from Department of Defense. Accion Systems has sold three units to the government and research partners. Accion Systems is making its ion engines available for commercial partners for the first time.

On the other hand, a Colorado company engaged in space transportation has decided to shut down. Escape Dynamics of Broomfield, Colorado, in 2015 recorded a technology achievement in space transportation. The company attributes the reason for winding up operations to high costs and risks association with future development, as reported by Space News.

MIT has developed ion engine and several years of development and testing gone into it. Dr Natalya Brikner, co-founder and CEO of  Accion Systems, said the company performed first technology demonstration in space. On-orbit flight test has been adhered to the quality performance on the lines of test in the lab. 

Brikner said: "Everyone needs propulsion. Even folks launching without propulsion today could save hundreds of millions of dollars if they could stay in orbit longer, phase their constellations more quickly or take advantage of cheaper and more frequent launches and then use propulsion to get to their desired altitude."

The space travel is also gaining momentum of late. The year 2015 witnessed much popularization of space travel. NASA's jet propulsion laboratory has released different themes for space travel for 2016, according to The Verge

The micro thruster technology offers capability to small satellites owners. This support was not available until recent time. Propulsion enables satellites to correct their position within the orbit around the earth.

The small perturbing forces in space can slow down a satellite or change its position within its orbit. The possibility of this occurrence is much more for small satellites. The traces of the Earth's atmosphere are strong enough to deorbit small satellites and burn them up in the atmosphere within short span of time.

Proper propulsion supports these satellites and extends their lifetime from months to years in orbit. More time in orbit means satellite owners can get more mileage from it.

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