Summary

Busek’s BIT-3 RF ion thruster is a mission- enabling, iodine-fueled ion propulsion system scheduled for launch on two deep-space CubeSat missions aboard NASA’s Space Launch System rocket in 2020. The 56-80W input propulsion system utilizes a 2.5cm diameter grid RF ion thruster (BIT-3) and a micro RF cathode (BRFC-1) as the neutralizer. The thruster’s unprecedented performance produces thrust up to 1.25mN and specific impulse up to 2,300 seconds. Performance results were verified with xenon and iodine propellant using a highly-accurate torsional thrust stand. As an optional add-on, Busek has developed an innovative thruster gimbal capable of desaturating reaction wheels as part of the Attitude Control System (ACS).

The BIT-3 uses an inductively-coupled plasma (ICP) discharge to eliminate the need for an internal hot cathode and increase overall lifetime. Thruster life is dominated by grid erosion, which by simulation exceeds 20,000 hours. The most unique feature of BIT-3 is its compatibility with iodine propellant, a demonstrated drop-in replacement for xenon in terms of thrust and Isp performance. Iodine stores as a dense solid (>2x storage density than xenon) and eliminates the need for high-pressure tanks.

Advances in the BIT-3 thruster and BRFC-1 neutralizer are complemented by major breakthroughs in the flight electronics. The BIT-3 power processing unit (PPU) features a ~90% efficient RF power supply with radiation-tolerant components. The state-of-the-art electronics package is highly efficient and compact.

Disclaimer: satsearch is not responsible for any mistakes on this page, although we do our best to ensure correctness. Please report any mistakes to us.

Last updated: 2021-02-09

Downloads

Specs

height
180 mm
length
88 mm
width
102 mm
mass
1.28 kg w/o gimbal, 1.40 kg w/ gimbal
voltage
28 V
thrust
< 1.25 mN
specific impulse
< 2300 s
operating temperature
-10 — 45 C
power
56 — 80 W

Submit your request


Request details

The more information you can provide the better.


Personal Information

Submitting your information allows us to get in touch with you once we get a response from the supplier.

Please select one of the following:

Would you like to subscribe to our newsletter?

Requests that are submitted through satsearch are anonymously posted to our leads page.

from our blog

Go to blog

Hywel Curtis 10, July 2019

CubeSat thrusters: an overview of in-space propulsion products for small satellites

Hywel Curtis 4, December 2019

Find a launch option for your CubeSat or small satellite - an overview of launch service providers

Hywel Curtis 14, May 2020

Launch separation systems for CubeSats and microsatellites