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Momentus reports success in testing water plasma propulsion

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SAN FRANCISCO – Silicon Valley startup Momentus’ is reporting success in on-orbit testing of water plasma propulsion and different key components of its Vigoride in-space transportation automobile.

“The on-orbit testing has demonstrated for the primary time that microwave electrothermal plasma know-how has the potential to attain excessive particular impulse utilizing water propellant,” Momentus CEO Mikhail Kokorich instructed SpaceNews. “Water plasma propulsion is now technologically mature sufficient to be baselined for operational in-space transportation missions.”

For the subsequent few months, Momentus plans to proceed firing the water plasma thruster and performing in-space maneuvers on the El Camino Actual spacecraft launched in July. Engineers will examine the outcomes of on-orbit testing with outcomes of floor assessments to validate the corporate’s fashions and evaluation, Kokorich stated by e mail. El Camino Actual is a 16-unit cubesat built-in by Astro Digital, a spacecraft producer and geospatial information evaluation agency primarily based in Santa Clara, California.

Momentus has raised more than $34 million for its marketing campaign to develop Vigoride and Vigoride Prolonged, shuttles to maneuver small satellites between orbits. One promising software for the know-how is shifting satellites from the orbit the place they’re dropped off by giant spacecraft conducting rideshare missions to their optimum orbital areas, Negar Feher, Momentus product and enterprise growth vice chairman, stated on the World Satellite tv for pc Enterprise Week convention in Paris earlier this month.

“The aim of the El Camino Actual mission was to flight exhibit our core propulsion know-how so clients, buyers and stakeholders can have absolute confidence that Momentus will ship their payloads to a given orbit,” Kokorich stated. “Some early outcomes have already been shared with our stakeholders, which embrace clients,” he added.

Along with water plasma propulsion, Momentus is testing Vigoride subsystems on the El Camino Actual mission together with flight software program, avionics, perspective sensors, microwave and energy system. In the course of the mission, Momentus has famous each nominal and off-nominal operational occasions “as will be anticipated from any new flight system,” Kokorich stated.

Throughout one operation, water froze all through the spacecraft’s propulsion strains. “The system proved to be extremely resilient and post-freezing, all models have been efficiently verified to function as anticipated,” Kokorich stated. “El Camino Actual has carried out quite a few sizzling thruster firings on-orbit because it launched in early July and the corporate has collected a wealth of helpful telemetry.”

Momentus revealed the primary El Camino Actual check outcomes on Twitter. “El Camino Actual is performing as anticipated!” the corporate tweeted Sept. 9. “This efficiently demonstrates for the primary time in-space water plasma propulsion, and likewise demonstrates the know-how, which has the very best particular impulse amongst different water-based propulsion.”


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