The start-up company Morpheus Space develops complete nanosatellite propulsion systems opening up for a sustainable future in space. Morpheus Space addresses handling debris, collision avoidance and agile constellations in space by smart NewSpace solutions, in line with what UN indicates on a sustainable future in space. This is done by using also Artificial Intelligent (AI) to identify the best solutions.
There Mission is to pioneer a new trend in the space industry, where micro launchers are the go-to in-orbit transports for all kind of missions. Since the Morpheus Space satellites will not be dependent anymore on the big rockets to deliver them in their desired orbit altitude. There patented electric space propulsion technology will able them to significantly modify the orbit of small satellites and significantly lower the launch costs.
Morpheus Space highest goal is to show the NewSpace industry that a sustainable approach to nanosatellite missions means not just keeping the Low Earth Orbit clean by assuring a re-entry into the atmosphere.
If the solutions for re-entry are taken into account early on in the design process of a space mission, new possibilities open up to optimize operations of small to large scale constellations, which lead in the end to better and smarter business models.
Morpheus Space has developed four products: 1. NanoFEEP – Complete Electric Propulsion System, 2. MultiFEEP – Complete Electric Propulsion System, 3. Collision Avoidance – Satellite Network Management Service (Tier 1) and 4. Agile Constellations – Satellite Network Management Service (Tier 2).
Morpheus Space technology was developed during many years of research at the Institute of Aerospace Engineering of TU Dresden. At its core lies the FEEP technology specially developed for miniaturized applications using the low-melting metallic gallium propellant, as well as a chip-based neutralizer with the corresponding supply and control electronics.
The system’s components are optimized to deliver the best propulsion performance for the least amount of space, mass and necessary electrical power, which are the most valuable commodities on board of a nanosatellite. Due to the system’s plug-and-play nature, the integration into a satellite platform is easy and highly customizable in order to fulfil the propulsion requirements of almost all low Earth orbit missions.
The NanoFEEP is a miniaturized ion thruster that uses a special low-melting-point alloy as a propellant. The MultiFEEP design lies at the forefront of micro propulsion technology. This unique system is designed for satellite missions, which have challenging requirements with regard to total delta-V, maximum thrust levels and precise thrust vector control.
As the underlying technology is the same as with NanoFEEP, the same space mission inheritance and high level of reliability are provided, while delivering ten-times higher thrust and maximum delta-V potential in the world of nanosatellite propulsion systems.
The UWE-4 satellite (University Würzburg Experimental satellite-4), one of the first 1U CubeSats to host electric propulsion, was launched in December 2018. Its primary mission was to fully characterize the Morpheus Space propulsion systems in orbit and provide the company`s propulsion systems with the most important attribute in the space industry: Flight Heritage.
Currently, there is no way of saving a nanosatellite from collisions with other objects. This not only means that in case of a collision, the satellite is lost, but also the whole orbit will be unusable for a long time. This has a great impact on the bottom line of each satellite constellation operating company. Even if the satellite would have the means of moving out of the way, the current prediction capabilities are approximately hours or a day at most.
Morpheus Space, in collaboration with its strategic partners, offers a never before seen collision avoidance service for nanosatellites. It is able to increase the prediction time to the order of weeks, which combined with the company`s agile propulsion system is more than enough to avoid almost all predictable collisions.
Agile Constellations is achieved by an Artificial Intelligent (AI) controlled network of nanosatellites equipped with NanoFEEP and MultiFEEP. Morpheus Space will be able for the first time, to truly build up satellite networks that can be operated as one entity, opening up new disrupting business opportunities and models in the NewSpace industry.
A current and very serious problem in the space industry is the ever-growing space debris. To continue to use space in the future, the debris must be disposed of much faster as that is the case naturally
With NanoFEEP, a small CubeSat who would otherwise be in orbit for 25 years could be propelled back into the atmosphere within 2 years. With MultiFEEP, one can even dispose of a 6U CubeSat within 2 years, which would otherwise orbit for 1000 years as a space debris
The growing popularity of small satellites has prompted several startups like Boston-based Accion Systems, Expulsion of Austria and Orbion Space Technology of Houghton, Michigan. But Morpheus Space is unique among them so let’s see what future Holds.