Ion Electrospray Electric CubeSat Propulsion System

The Ion Electrospray Propulsion System (iEPS) represents a technological advance in electric CubeSat propulsion systems. An electric propulsion system for CubeSats relies on electromagnetic fields for acceleration. Traditionally, electric propulsion systems have used thrusters that are inefficient because they are bulky and generate a significant amount of heat.

Newsweek has reported that a team at MIT’s Space Propulsion Laboratory has developed the Ion Electrospray Propulsion System (iEPS). The thruster for the system is comprised of a battery powered metal grid placed near the propellant which is a liquid salt. The grid creates an electric field which pulls the ions that make up the propellant and cause them to move through the grid. The system remains cool during operation because it is not dependent on the heating of conventional rocket fuel. As such, rockets using this electric propulsion system could be made from plastic. The efficiency of the iEPS system will allow CubeSats to remain in orbit for much longer than those that use traditional electric propulsion systems.

VACCO Industries can provide support for Ion Electrospray Propulsion Systems. In addition, we manufacture a variety of CubeSat and NanoSat propulsion systems for our customers. We have delivered many flight systems to customers for several missions. VACCO CubeSat engineers have decades of experience in the CubeSat industry and have published numerous academic papers on CubeSats. To learn more about our CubeSat propulsion modules, please visit