Patent Approved for Ready-to-Go Space Propulsion System
LOS ANGELES, July 19 10, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Orbital logistics and space mining leader TransAstra Corporation today announced that it has been granted a patent on a solar-thermal rocket engine that will revolutionize the growing satellite industry. and will accelerate the growth of the global space economy.
The company’s Omnivore™ thruster, which powers its Worker Bee space tugs, marks a significant departure from existing rocket propellant systems, as it works with multiple types of propellants, including water, individually or in combination, and is powered directly by solar energy without the need for solar panels or expensive electronics.
Outperforming rocket engines
Most rocket engines today use dangerous chemical reactions to heat and accelerate the propellant to produce thrust. The use of reactive chemical propellants is extremely dangerous, due to their explosive nature and carcinogenic risks, and extremely expensive, due to the costs associated with regulatory compliance and soaring fuel prices. Other motors use solar-electric power, converting the sun’s energy into electricity with large, heavy solar panels. These are not only expensive — $10 million worth of solar panels typically create less than 1 Newton of thrust — but are also slow, requiring four days to accelerate from 0 mph to 60 mph. Ready to disrupt these pillars of space propulsion, Omnivore™ is typically ten times faster than electric propulsion at around one-fifth the cost, and can use ordinary tap water as its propellant, for a clean, cheap, safe alternative. and affordable.
“Omnivore fuels a satellite industry that is hungry for technology that delivers increased speed at reduced cost,” said Joel C. Sercel, PhD, CEO of TransAstra. “Plus, it can run on a propellant so safe you can drink it.”
The newly patented breakthrough technology is the first solar thermal propulsion system of its kind to be successfully tested and designed to be “Thruster Independent”, meaning it can operate not just on water, but on virtually any volatile fluid (one that evaporates). Its propellants, which can include other fluids such as ammonia or even regular rocket fuel, include those that can be found both on Earth and in space.
“Our intention with the Omnivore thruster, in addition to delivering more speed and safety at lower cost, has always been to create a propulsion system that can be replenished as quickly and easily as possible,” Sercel stressed. “By running on water – a resource we know exists on the moon and in asteroids – this technology is helping space take a giant step towards becoming a more self-sufficient and independent ecosystem from Earth, and establishes a key piece of the infrastructure needed for the More than 100,000 commercial satellites are expected to be launched into low Earth orbit (LEO) over the next decade.
Other companies have propulsion systems that can use water as a propellant, Sercel explained, but all are powered by expensive electric propulsion systems. Omnivore™ is the only system that uses water and safe, clean and efficient concentrated sunlight as its energy source, allowing it to deliver many times the thrust at a fraction of the cost.
Using the Omnivore™ thruster, TransAstra’s first-generation Worker Bee space tugs enable the delivery of customer satellites and full satellite constellations to operational slots in LEO, Medium Earth Orbit (MEO), Geosynchronous Equatorial Orbits (GEO ) and in cislunar space, in days instead of months. (For example, TransAstra’s Worker Bee can deliver a 24-satellite LEO constellation in 12 days, compared to a 120-day delivery using traditional electric propulsion, and can deliver a 96-satellite constellation in a single launch.)
The first generation of Worker Bee space tugs will use water launched from earth, with later generations of TransAstra tugs using water or other space-harvested propellants. Later generations of TransAstra tugs will also use a variation of the Omnivore™ thruster that can run on liquid hydrogen or water as the propellant. The liquid hydrogen variant of the Worker Bee space tug will deliver an even bigger breakthrough, roughly comparable to nuclear rockets, but with clean, safe and affordable solar thermal power systems.
“For space transportation,” Sercel notes, “Worker Bee and Omnivore will make old chemical rockets and electric thrusters obsolete within a few years.”
TransAstra’s other existing and pending patents relate to space resource technology that it is developing specifically for the purpose of harvesting water as propellant in space.
With the addition of the Omnivore™ patent, TransAstra’s existing patent portfolio includes patents for inventions that include:
- Thermal energy and electricity for lunar outposts
- Depots for mining asteroids and storing thrusters in space
- Extraction of propellants from the lunar and Martian polar regions
- Optical Mining™ Technology for Asteroid Mining
Over the next 12 months, the company expects to receive approvals on approximately a dozen additional patents.
Founded in 2017, TransAstra (TransAstra.com) is an American orbital logistics and space mining company that advances the industrialization and colonization of space through the sustainable and ethical development of mission-critical space infrastructure technologies. dual use fueled by space and energy resources. of the sun. The LA-headquartered YCombinator 2021 alum has been granted 5 patents and has over 10 additional patents pending.