Artist’s conception of the LISA mission (image courtesy of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
3D Model of the Busek Colloid MicroNewton Thruster (CMNT)
Two flight hardware CMNT clusters delivered to JPL and the European Space Agency for integration on Lisa Pathfinder
FIRST FLIGHT ELECTROSPRAY THRUSTER, LISA PATHFINDER (DELIVERED, 2008) In 2008 Busek delivered to NASA’s JPL eight electrospray thrusters clusters for the NASA/ESA LISA Pathfinder mission,  ST7. This technology demonstration mission has been undertaken to prepare for the Laser Interferometry Space  Antenna (LISA), which is a gravity wave observatory.  Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves -  ripples in space and time - in 1915, occuring as the result of events such as closely-orbiting binaries, black hole mergers  and the aftermath of the Big Bang.    In order to measure gravity waves, the satellites must be in a completely noise-free environment - even the solar  pressure from the sun must be eliminated.  The purpose of the Busek Electrospray Thrusters is to counteract small  (micro-Newton) disturbance forces in a very precise manner (requiring precision on the order of 100 nano-Newtons). The culmination of a 6-year development effort, with its genesis as a Phase 1 SBIR (JPL), the Electrospray Thruster Clusters  consist of complete systems of thrusters, feed systems, propellant storage, power electronics, and digital control  interface unit.  LISA Pathfinder launched from Kourou in December of 2015 and all electrospray thruster units were successfully  commissions in January 2016, after having been stored, fully fueled for nearly eight years. After reaching Lagrange Point 1, the thrusters accumulated an average of 2,400 hours operation and met 100% of mission goals. In recognition of this ground-breaking technical effort, Busek received the 2008 paper of the year award by the AIAA  Joint Propulsion Conference Electric Propulsion Technical Committee. The AIAA also awarded Busek a 2017 Electric  Propulsion Outstanding Acheivement Award for the successful flight demonstration of a micro-Newton colloid  electrospray propulsion system on the LISA Pathfinder spacecraft. Busek has leveraged the core electrospray technology into higher thrust electrospray units that can be used to meet  general propulsion needs, including CubeSat propulsion. CONTACT: Nate Demmons Director, Flight Hardware Fabrication and Acting Director, Micropropulsion nate@busek.com
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