Source: NASA

Authors: Andrew Wagner

Published Date: Mon, 06 May 2024 16:01:29 +0000

Summary: Satellites in low Earth orbit face atmospheric drag that slows them down over time, necessitating thrusters to maintain their orbits. Traditional chemical thrusters are heavy and costly, prompting Orbion Space Technology to develop the more efficient Aurora ion thrusters. Established in 2016 in Houghton, Michigan, Orbion aimed to extend satellite lifespans and increase payload capacity using Hall-effect thrusters, which utilize electricity instead of chemical reactions. Collaborating with NASA’s Glenn Research Center, Orbion leveraged NASA’s advancements in materials and cathode heaters to enhance their thrusters’ efficiency and lifespan. As a result, Orbion’s Aurora thrusters are now on par with NASA’s deep space mission thrusters and have been sold to various government and private sector clients, including a major commercial satellite operator.

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