Water could power satellite in orbit
March 15, 2023
Pale Blue Global has developed a water-based propulsion system for satellites. The Japanese business describes its technology as ‘The ultimate green propellant’.
The company says it has succeeded in operating the water vapor propulsion system (resistojet) in low Earth orbit. Pale Blue’s propulsion system was installed on ‘EYE’, a small nano-satellite for the Sony-backed STAR SPHERE Project, and tested for the first time in space. Going forward, the company will innovate and expand the commercial use of its water-based propulsion systems for small satellites.
Pale Blue’s water-based propulsion system aboard EYE was launched by SpaceX on January 3rd 2023 and has been currently orbiting earth in LEO. The propulsion system operated for approximately two minutes on March 3rd 2023, and the company confirmed successful thrust from the obtained data.
STAR SPHERE Project, led by Sony Group Corporation, is planning to roll out a space photography service in 2023. The satellite will use Pale Blue’s thruster to enter the target orbit before service launch. The satellite will be moved to its target orbit during April when full operations will commence.
“Pale Blue successfully developed and operated its water-based thruster, and with this, the company takes a huge step forward towards orbit insertion for STAR SPHERE Project,” said Jun Asakawa, CEO/Co-Founder of Pale Blue. “We feel a strong significance in this project, which creates new values through the perspective of space and provides opportunities to learn about the Earth and its environment. We will continue technological innovation to create mobility capabilities that are core to the space industry and pioneer the expansion of human possibility.”
Pale Blue itself is a space start-up from the University of Tokyo founded in 2020. The company is dedicated to thruster innovation for small satellites that use water as a propellant. Through its water-based propulsion technology, Pale Blue aims to develop a space ecosystem where in-space mobility is not only affordable but completely safe to both humans and the surrounding environment.