First flight scheduled Q1, 2021. The ConstantQ technology is also schedules to fly aboard the NASA Artemis-1 mission in Q4.
Yes. For deorbit, the Delta-v for 3U or 6U spacecraft is sufficient to reduce orbit and accelerate decay through drag. Delta-v is sufficient for several orbit maneuvers.
The M1.4 device uses ConstantQ™ propulsion technology, converting electricity and water
vapor into thrust. Thrust is derived from electrostatic acceleration of separated ions and
electrons using a combination of classic collisionless flow and electrohydrodynamic (EHD)
regimes, all working in a cycle determined by propellant temperature, input power, and device
geometry. The operating cycle is self stabilizing and does not require real time active control
once initiated, though altering temperature and/or power will alter delivered thrust. The process
is self neutralizing and does not require a neutralizer device. Pressures throughout the system
generate water vapor through sublimation, avoiding the need for water to boil and tolerating
frozen ice as the propellant.
Temperature management is achieved with a high-density flat heater on the tank, a valve
self-heating feature, and routing of electronics waste heat to minimize freezing of water vapor.
Thrust is attained with a wide range of temperatures, including a tank full of frozen water ice.
Water vapor is generated through sublimation that occurs when the system is run below the
vapor pressure – a process that does not require water to boil into steam. Water vapor, not liquid
water, reaches the thrust heads and is converted into plasma and thrust. Should liquid water get
near the thrust heads, it would rapidly sublimate into vapor due to vacuum exposure
11.5W is drawn by the heater when energized with 12V. The heater’s resistance is 12.5 Ohms, so it draws 0.96 Amps at 12 Volts. Thermal modeling of a 3U spacecraft shows this is 10%+ more power than required to compensate for a typical 10C change when a LEO satellite is eclipsed.
5V digital logic and valves are expected to draw 65mA, 0.33W, peak. At idle, 20mA, 0.1W, is expected.
12V heater power draws 11.5W.
At room temperature, 12V thruster operation draws 150mA, 1.8W, per thrust head. All four thrust heads running concurrently draw 600mA, 7.2W total.
The heater and thrust heads should not be run simultaneously.
No. The M1.4 naturally operates in pulses with a slight breathing mode around an unstable operating point. Internal capacitors essential to starting the process also prevent instant shutdown as their stored energy continues to feed pulses. As such, impulse bit timing, duration, and thrust are likely not regulated tightly enough for precision pointing of small craft.