Neither the space research ever stops. Here is a new electric motor tested for the propulsion of a satellite in the space, pioneer in using iodine to convert electrical energy into ionic propulsion. It is a solution that might become the alternative to xenon and solve the problem of the space rubbish.
The vehicle, launched in 2020, is CubeSat, a type of miniaturized satellite that weighs around 20 kg, protagonist of a mission that might pave the way to a new generation of smaller and cheaper space crafts.
Full in-orbit operation of a satellite powered by iodine gas has now been carried out by space tech company ThrustMe, and the technology promises to lead to satellite propulsion systems that are more efficient and affordable than ever before.
Xenon, currently the main ionizable propellant used for the electric space propulsion, is scarcely present in nature and very expensive. Iodine, on the contrary, is significantly more abundant and cheaper, and can also simplify the power supply of satellites that are in the low earth orbit. Currently, the vast majority of small satellites that are in orbit around the Earth miss the propellent and without propulsion, satellites remain in the space, actually operating as debris. In this scenario, space crafts that use iodine might make the difference.