Press Release

Busek Wins NASA Contracts for Key Technology towards Asteroid Missions

By SpaceRef Editor
April 29, 2013
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Cluster of four Busek Hall effect thrusters

NATICK, April 29, 2013 – Busek Co. Inc., a US space propulsion and systems firm, won six NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I awards, which were announced earlier this month. Three of the awards were under the new NASA “Select” SBIR topic, “High Power Electric Propulsion Systems”, a key technology needed for missions such as asteroid retrieval. The three “Select” SBIR awards have a potential contract value of up to $5.1M.

NASA’s “Select” topics under SBIR include technology areas intended to enable future space missions. NASA has identified high-power (15kW-class) Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) systems using Hall effect thrusters as a key component to reducing mass and driving cost savings in lunar cargo, Mars cargo, and asteroid retrieval missions. Busek has previous and ongoing research and development supporting both the NASA Glenn Research Center and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. Much of this work is in the area of advancing the technology readiness and lifetime of high-power (10-20kW-class) Hall effect thrusters and subsystems, a type of solar electric propulsion.

“Busek is proud to continue our support of NASA’s initiatives. These awards position Busek to supply NASA with Hall thruster technology for a near term high power SEP Technology Demonstration Mission and opens the door to missions such as asteroid retrieval and mining,” said Vlad Hruby, President of Busek. Ultimately, multiple high power thrusters could be clustered together for larger vehicles in the 30kW to 100kW power range, according to Hruby. Hall thrusters may reduce spacecraft mass by up to 40% versus those which use traditional propulsion systems. For large commercial satellites, this mass reduction may equate to upwards of $50M in launch-cost savings.

About Busek Co. Inc.

Busek Co. Inc. (Busek) is a leading supplier of solar electric propulsion, power management, and systems engineering services. Its technology capabilities suit the needs of a wide range of space vehicles; from small, micro, and nano-satellites to medium and large commercial communications satellites. Busek developed the first US Hall effect thruster to operate in space and holds 19 patents (current or pending) in the field of electric propulsion. Busek was founded in 1985 and is a privately held S-Corporation.


W. Dan Williams, Ph.D.
Director of Business Development
Busek Co. Inc.

Bruce Pote
Director of Hall Thrusters
Busek Co. Inc.

SpaceRef staff editor.