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 a pair of electrospray thruster 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. They are scheduled to launch on an ESA spacecraft in 2011.
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.
Busek has leveraged the core electrospray technology into higher thrust electrospray thrusters that can be used to meet
general propulsion needs, including CubeSat propulsion.
Director, Flight Hardware Fabrication and Acting Director, Micropropulsion
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