Orbion will provide propulsion for General Atomics’ weather satellite

SAN FRANCISCO – Orbion Space Technology will supply a propulsion system for a US Space Force prototype weather satellite, under a contract with General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS).

In February, the Space Force announced the selection of General Atomics and Orion Space Solutions to develop and launch each of the demonstration satellites to collect global weather images and data on cloud characteristics.

The General Atomics satellite will rely on Orbion’s Aurora Hall-effect plasma thruster system for raising and maintaining orbit, Orbion executives said. SpaceNews. The Aurora system will also propel the 400-kilogram satellite out of orbit at the end of its mission.

“In terms of total impulse, thrust and fuel efficiency, the technical specifications of our Aurora product matched the EWS propulsion requirements almost perfectly,” Brad King, co-founder and CEO of Orbion said via email. .. “Last year, the EWS program grew from a one-year sensor demonstration to a three- to five-year operational mission. This placed increased reliability demands on the propulsion system – which Aurora was already designed for.

Gregg Burgess, vice president of GA-EMS Space Systems, added in a statement that the Aurora thruster “meeted our technical requirements” and that “Orbion’s focus on providing capabilities for an operational mission underpinned our selection”.

In response to customer demand, Orbion is modernizing its manufacturing infrastructure.

“We have a team in Germany this week doing the final inspection of the new custom test rigs,” King said. “These extensive test rigs and support equipment will be integrated into our new factory building in the fall of 2022.”

Orbion will have a production capacity of “a few hundred propulsion units per year by mid-2023,” King said. “We are delivering a few dozen propulsion systems to our customers over the next year as the first products coming out of the new facility. In addition to our flagship Aurora Hall effect propulsion systems, we will soon offer spacecraft component products including gas regulators, propellant flow control systems and valves.

Orbion did not disclose the value of the GA-EMS award.

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