Revolutionary iodine engine first tested in space

(ORDO NEWS) — French startup ThrustMe sent the world’s first iodine-powered electric rocket engine into space in early November last year. It was installed on the small satellite CubeSat 12U and reached orbit using the Chinese Changzheng-6 launch vehicle. It took some time to start testing, but recently it was reported that they were successful.

It is known that the engine was started several times in late December and early January. Each time the burn lasted approximately 90 minutes. As a result, it was possible to correct the height of the apparatus relative to the Earth’s orbit by 700 meters. According to ThrustMe, this proves iodine can be considered a suitable fuel for electric propulsion and marks a step towards the commercialization of the new system.

The main advantage of iodine is its economy. Unlike many traditional rocket and satellite fuels, iodine is non-toxic and remains solid at room temperature. It also does not require a complex depressurization system to go into a gaseous state. This makes it easier and cheaper to work with it on Earth.

Experts believe that using the new fuel will help clear the sky from space debris – satellites powered by iodine have sufficient thrust to maintain altitude and prevent collisions. In addition, they, small and cheap, can be easily disposed of at the end of a mission by directing the atmosphere where they will burn up, and will not drift in space, as is happening now.

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