Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales Group and Leonardo S.p.A, has signed an agreement with aerospace component manufacturer Miprons, Segni, Italy, to develop a propulsion system for satellites that will feature additively manufactured components and be powered by water. Based in France, Thales Alenia Space provides solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation and environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructure.
Founded in 2019, Miprons specialises in micro propulsion for nano satellites. It has filed three international patents, on innovative space propulsion systems and the relative main components. It is particularly focusing on the use of water in space applications for both propulsion and human requirements. The water-powered propulsion system will reportedly be based on Miprons’ proprietary technology, the ALEXIUS space propulsion system solution which has been patent filed in fifty countries.
By utilising this technology the companies aim to develop a miniaturised, high-powered thruster that will use water as a propellant. An electrolysis process splits the water into hydrogen and oxygen, which are fed into the combustion chamber. By only loading water, the system would allow faster maneuvers such as orbit-raising, de-orbiting and collision avoidance. The system is expected to be both compact and scalable, allowing it to be installed on a range of small and large satellites. The development of the propulsion system will also utilise Additive Manufacturing for a number of components.
Designed specifically for Thales Alenia Space’s satellites, this high-efficiency thruster is expected to feature reduced weight and volume. Thales Alenia Space states that it will guide thruster development and its location in Italy will support the environmental testing of the engineering model.
“We are very proud to team up with Miprons, which is gaining increasing international recognition, since our collaboration could well change the paradigm for space missions,” stated Massimo Claudio Comparini, CEO of Thales Alenia Space in Italy. “This agreement confirms Thales Alenia Space’s strategy to play a pivotal role in new space initiatives, reflected in synergies generated with exciting new startups that catalyse the entire space ecosystem. We are always willing to tackle new challenges that emphasise the growing strategic importance of the space sector.”
Angelo Minotti, CEO and founder of Miprons, commented, “I am extremely proud of our agreement with Thales Alenia Space. It’s truly a privilege to earn the trust of one of the world’s largest space companies. Our project, although still in its early stages, clearly has the potential to define a new paradigm in space, and we will do everything we can to have the system up and running as soon as possible.”