Phase Four Achieves Electric Thruster Operation on Air Force Green Propellant ASCENT

Phase Four Achieves Electric Thruster Operation on Air Force Green Propellant ASCENT

Phase Four, the creator of the radio-frequency thruster (RF thruster) for satellite propulsion, announced that it has successfully demonstrated the operation of its RF thruster using the Air Force Research Laboratory's green propellant, ASCENT (formerly AF-M315E). The achievement, made under a U.S. Space Force contract awarded at the 2021 Space Force Pitch Day, enables multi-mode propulsion capability, which combines the high thrust capabilities of liquid chemical propulsion with the high-efficiency capabilities of electric propulsion operating on a single common propellant.

"This achievement further underlines the expansive capability of Phase Four's propulsive technology, which has already been shown to operate on other novel propellants such as iodine and water. We are proud to work alongside AFRL to now demonstrate RF thruster operation on ASCENT and build upon the versatility of this green propellant," said Jason Wallace, Vice President of Advanced Development at Phase Four.

Jim Bridenstine, former NASA Administrator and recent addition to the Phase Four board of directors, added "With the increasingly congested and contested space domain,  ASCENT-based RF thrusters are a critical technology to ensure the United States propulsive superiority in space."

Phase Four tested the RF thruster while flowing ASCENT and the individual gases that make up the green propellant. Throughout the test, Phase Four demonstrated ignition and stable firing over a wide spectrum of thruster operating points, achieving the world's first cathode-less ASCENT plasma. Future development will focus on fine-tuning plasma performance for ASCENT and other liquid propellants used in monopropellant and bipropellant thrusters, with a focus to provide future space vehicles with the ability to maneuver without regret by delivering operational, turn-key multi-mode propulsion systems.

"Before joining Phase Four, I had the privilege of working with U.S. Space Force senior leaders to build out the concept of multi-mode propulsion and outline the capability it could unlock for national security missions. It became apparent that a game-changing propulsion technology would be required. Only the Phase Four RF thruster provided the necessary architecture to achieve multi-mode capability using novel liquid propellants, such as ASCENT," said Jesse Sidhu, Phase Four senior systems engineer and technical lead on the program. "I'm proud to say that the Phase Four team has brought what used to be science fiction into reality. We now look forward to optimizing our thruster and building on this program to deliver unprecedented mission-centric propulsive capability to our warfighters."

Click here to learn about different types of satellite thrusters.

Publisher: SatNow
Tags:-  SatelliteThrusters

GNSS Constellations - A list of all GNSS satellites by constellations


Satellite NameOrbit Date
BeiDou-3 G4Geostationary Orbit (GEO)17 May, 2023
BeiDou-3 G2Geostationary Orbit (GEO)09 Mar, 2020
Compass-IGSO7Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)09 Feb, 2020
BeiDou-3 M19Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M20Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M21Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M22Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 I3Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M23Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019
BeiDou-3 M24Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019


Satellite NameOrbit Date
GSAT0223MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0224MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0219MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0220MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0221MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0222MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0215MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0216MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0217MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0218MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017


Satellite NameOrbit Date
Kosmos 2569--07 Aug, 2023
Kosmos 2564--28 Nov, 2022
Kosmos 2559--10 Oct, 2022
Kosmos 2557--07 Jul, 2022
Kosmos 2547--25 Oct, 2020
Kosmos 2545--16 Mar, 2020
Kosmos 2544--11 Dec, 2019
Kosmos 2534--27 May, 2019
Kosmos 2529--03 Nov, 2018
Kosmos 2527--16 Jun, 2018


Satellite NameOrbit Date
Navstar 82Medium Earth Orbit19 Jan, 2023
Navstar 81Medium Earth Orbit17 Jun, 2021
Navstar 78Medium Earth Orbit22 Aug, 2019
Navstar 77Medium Earth Orbit23 Dec, 2018
Navstar 76Medium Earth Orbit05 Feb, 2016
Navstar 75Medium Earth Orbit31 Oct, 2015
Navstar 74Medium Earth Orbit15 Jul, 2015
Navstar 73Medium Earth Orbit25 Mar, 2015
Navstar 72Medium Earth Orbit29 Oct, 2014
Navstar 71Medium Earth Orbit02 Aug, 2014


Satellite NameOrbit Date
NVS-01Geostationary Orbit (GEO)29 May, 2023
IRNSS-1IInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)12 Apr, 2018
IRNSS-1HSub Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (Sub-GTO)31 Aug, 2017
IRNSS-1GGeostationary Orbit (GEO)28 Apr, 2016
IRNSS-1FGeostationary Orbit (GEO)10 Mar, 2016
IRNSS-1EGeosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)20 Jan, 2016
IRNSS-1DInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)28 Mar, 2015
IRNSS-1CGeostationary Orbit (GEO)16 Oct, 2014
IRNSS-1BInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Apr, 2014
IRNSS-1AInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)01 Jul, 2013