Technion: Researchers Develop Revolutionary Electric Rocket Engine for Small Satellites

Technion: Researchers Develop Revolutionary Electric Rocket Engine for Small Satellites
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“Researchers from the Technion’s Asher Space Research Institute have developed a revolutionary electric rocket engine for small satellites called “CAMILA” (Co-axial Magneto-Isolated Longitudinal Anode). This engine belongs to a group called Hall thrusters, which are increasingly being used in satellites. The Technion has registered a patent on this development, which has already been presented at two international conferences and has aroused great interest. The engine’s working principle is based on ionizing (extracting electrons from atoms) of fuel (xenon gas) and accelerating it in electric and magnetic fields towards the exhaust.

The Technion’s Asher Space Research Institute has established a special laboratory for electric propulsion, which deals with developing these engines.

Dr. Alexander Kapulkin of the Asher Space Research Institute invented the innovative engine. Dr. Kapulkin was a Ph D-student of Prof. Alexei Morozov from the Atomic Energy Institute in Moscow, who was one of the developing fathers of the electric rocket engine in the world. Dr. Kapulkin is the former head of the Physics and Engineering Laboratory and professor in the Aerospace Engineering Faculty at the University of Dnipropetrovsk in the Ukraine. He repatriated to Israel in 1999 and joined the Technion in 2000 as a senior researcher.

The researchers explain that in a regular rocket engine (chemical fuel engine) gas exhaust speed does not exceed 4-5 kilometers per second, while the speed range of gas exhaust in an electric rocket engine is greater. This speed depends on the satellite mission and there is an “optimal exhaust gas speed.” Today, the optimal speed of the electric rocket engine in most satellites is some 20 kilometers per second. The resulting high speed in these engines enables decreasing the amount of fuel needed to carry out space missions and therefore the satellite mass, and eventually to reduce launch cost. Most satellites launched today are small satellites which require for their operation a small electric rocket engine with a low supply like the ones developed at the Technion.”

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