NeutronStar Systems UG and Krisol AG have announced a new cooperation agreement to foster innovative space technology development set to unlock the future of space operations. At a time when the European funding powers appear to be attempting to curb investment in radical and disruptive emerging high-power space technologies, this accord comes as a breath of fresh air for an industry otherwise resting on its laurels as it chooses to maintain the risk-averting, innovation-stifling status quo.
The agreement, in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), formalises the mutual interaction and strengthens the existing relationship between Krisol AG (Krisol) and NeutronStar Systems UG (NSS) at the strategic and working level, focusing on promoting the development and manufacturing of advanced Ultra Lightweight Space Solar PhotoVoltaic Array (ULSPVA) technology based on a 35 year R&D legacy in mastering thin-film deposition techniques. The integration of NSS' and Krisol's technology promises to drastically improve the feasibility and economics of future space missions such as GEO communications satellites, satellite servicing space tugs, and cargo missions to the Moon and to Mars. In fact, the scale of the reduction in mission costs is truly staggering: up to $15 million for a 35kW GEO satellite; $130 million for a Moon cargo mission; and $400 million for a Mars cargo mission.
Neutron Star Systems
NSS is focused on commercialising a unique and first-of-its-kind high-temperature superconductor-based Applied-Field Magnetoplasmadynamic Electric Propulsion System (SUPREME) for high-power space missions. Addressing the needs of both private companies and space agencies to meet requirements for high-power market scenarios, NSS offers a highly-efficient thruster using low-cost propellant, enabling missions that reach further afield destinations faster and more cost-effectively with a lighter and more compact propulsion system.
Krisol is a joint venture between NEXOLVE, a major US-based supplier of space-rated polyimides, and the Swiss-based RTO organization CSEM, a key world player in photovoltaic technology with its leading PV-center and scientific partners from EPFL PV-lab in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. This unique international collaboration enables a breakthrough for long-range space missions through the development of cutting-edge, flexible solar space arrays for space and high-altitude applications in the 10-1000 kW range, leading to a drastic reduction in weight of ion electric propulsion stages.
NeXolve Holding Company
NeXolve Holding Company LLC, formerly a part of ManTech SRS Technologies and Mantech International Corporation, and since its founding in 1970, has become a high-performance materials provider, supplying advanced materials products to commercial and government customers worldwide. NeXolve manufactures and designs high-performance polymer materials for electronics, display and aerospace applications. These advanced polymer products offer a wide array of commercial uses, as well as ongoing space and aeronautic flight use. Their best-in-class clear optically-transparent polyimides CP1 and CORIN® are rated by NASA as the only space-qualified thin-film high-performance polyimides for long-term space use in both LEO and GEO orbits. Particularly attractive are their self-healing properties under exposure of aggressive atomic oxygen corrosion present in LEO orbits, making them resistant to micro-meteoroid and space debris impacts.
Dr. Matthias Krieger, Krisol
Dr. Matthias Krieger, Coordinator of Krisol, highlights the attractiveness of this cooperation as follows: "Entry barriers for new technology in space are extremely high and thus disruptive innovation is rare. Yet we are proud to have assembled ingenious, established technology partners, enhanced with incredibly innovative startup pioneers, into a breakthrough alliance exploiting the best of all available mature technology skills and components. By combining mature and cost-effective mass-production technology from consumer-electronics with space-rated materials, we are able to combine the best of all technologies into a novel system architecture for solar electric propulsion offering nearly an order of magnitude savings in weight. Long-range space missions will benefit from significant available additional payload at equal total launch cost."
Manuel La Rosa Betancourt, NSS
Manuel La Rosa Betancourt, CEO of Neutron Star Systems, says: "This is a welcome and important initiative which formalises the relationship between NSS and Krisol. I truly believe that the synergistic nature of our combined technologies will have a revolutionising impact on future high-power space missions as the integration of ULSPVA and Electric Propulsion SUPREME thruster technologies enables unparalelled power upscaling. I therefore look forward to continuing to build on our constructive cooperation in the interest of enhancing the commercial space propulsion market. Entering into the expanse beyond Earth's atmosphere represents the next phase in human space exploration. This cooperation will allow us to share our expertise and know-how on emerging disruptive space technology, leveraging on the innovative potential of the combined technologies."
Krisol and Neutron Star Systems have a shared objective of developing combined ULSPVA-Electric Propulsion systems for missions in the range of 10-1000 kW. The fusion and assimilation of these synergistic technologies and the resulting upscale of power available for such missions represents not only a real innovation breakthrough, but also proof that an integrated approach to advancing disruptive technologies can yield the results necessary to challenge and overcome the industry status quo. Indeed, recent joint participation in an ACCESS.SPACE Alliance weekly webinar, consisting of individual presentations and a panel discussion, succeeded in further consolidating this union of technologies and vision. The MoU forged between NSS and Krisol provides for continued strengthening of future cooperation in achieving common goals that will propel the development of radical and disruptive emerging technologies in the high-power space market.