Accion Systems founder/CEO Natalya Bailey and team member Raleigh Werner contributed this article about electric satellite propulsion systems to SatMagazine. That’s right: These are propulsion systems for orbiting satellites that are powered by electricity, not by burning chemicals.
Tweney Media helped Accion produce this article, along with a second piece that appeared in Aerospace & Defense Tech Magazine. The latter piece also included illustrations by Zina Deretsky, who worked with us for this project.
Electric propulsion systems for satellites have been in commercial use for decades—primarily Hall-effect thrusters and gridded ion engines—but their adoption in the market has been constrained on account of their high costs, inability to scale down to smaller designs, and performance limitations.
However, a third approach—electrospray technology—could put electric propulsion on a much more competitive footing for a wide variety of space applications, from constellations of small satellites to manned interplanetary missions.