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  • Satellite Evolution Group

UK Space Agency announces vital US/UK partnership in world leading electric space propulsion

Britain's Pulsar Fusion and the University of Michigan have entered a partnership to will develop an international relationship concerning electric propulsion research with the USA.

Electric propulsion and specifically Hall effect thrusters are a key technology enabler for spacecraft. This UK Space Agency collaboration will develop a relationship with the leading University research centre in Hall thrusters in the USA (and arguably the world): the Plasma dynamics and Electric Propulsion Lab at the University of Michigan (US), along with leading Hall thruster companies Pulsar Fusion (UK) & Starlight Engines (US) and University of Southampton (UK).

NASA has identified a strategic need over the next decade for electric propulsion, in particular in the field of high-power electric propulsion and propellants.

Hall thrusters are finding application in a vast array of different spacecraft missions, including geostationary satellites and interplanetary missions. This includes robotic rendezvous missions such as those developed by Northrop Grumman and Astroscale, in particular for spacecraft de-orbiting, and interplanetary missions such as the Lunar Gateway Space Station and the NASA Psyche mission.

Until now, there has been no such collaborations between the UK and USA on Hall thruster research. This new partnership of leading expertise in Hall thrusters, will commence such a collaboration for the first time, allowing the UK to benefit from the leading research and development in the world.

This partnership will be funded from the first phase of the UK Space Agency’s £20 million International Bilateral Fund and is the second project awarded to Pulsar Fusion by the UKSA.

Pulsar Fusion CEO, Richard Dinan commented: "As a manufacturer of space engines, there are regulatory challenges in being based in the UK, but England does have a fantastic talent pool and our scientists deserve to be at the forefront of these emerging technologies.

"This is another key US partnership for Pulsar - we continue to pursue best-in-class innovation, and this is particularly exciting given the global commercial interest in these engines. Following last month’s announcement of our work with Princeton Satellite Systems, we remain optimistic that companies like Pulsar can continue to advance our technologies whilst remaining in the UK with access to unparalleled scientific resources."


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