ESA specialists have developed a new model of small CubeSat satellites capable of independently changing orbit with the help of butane engines installed on their bodies. The first such satellites – GomX-4B and GomX-4A – will be launched in early February 2018.
Both devices are equipped with a small set of research equipment and small coupled shunting engines that can move an eight kilogram satellite at a speed of up to 15 meters per second. Maneuver the device will be at the expense of alternating or pairing of engines. The developers note that the fuel in them is enough for about one hour of continuous flight.
“The fuel is under pressure and exits through a small nozzle. Using liquid butane, we were able to achieve a significant increase in the speed of aircraft. In liquid form, the gas is approximately 1000 times denser than in the gaseous, so we managed to fit a rather large volume of butane in the tank, which is enough for the flight hour, “says the head of NanoSpace, which developed the engines.
After separation from the carrier rocket GomX-4A and 4B deployed antennas to each other and use the engines to move away and check inter-satellite communications. Further, the engineers will test different modes of engine operation to make sure that everything works as it should.