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Thales and Miprons to develop water-powered satellite propulsion system

This agreement is part of a broader strategy by Thales to engage with startup space companies.

Thales Alenia Space has signed an agreement with Italian startup Miprons to develop a propulsion system for satellites, using water as a fuel.

Based on Miprons’ proprietary technology, with the Italian patent being extended to 49 other countries, this miniaturized, high-thrust thruster will use a very green, cost-effective propellant – water. An electrolysis process breaks down the water into hydrogen and oxygen, which are fed into the combustion chamber. Only loading water, the system will allow for faster manoeuvre times such as orbit-raising, de-orbiting and collision avoidance. Because the system is both compact and scalable, it can be used on all-size satellites, from small to large.

The Miprons concept also calls on 3D printing for a number of components. Purposed-designed for Thales Alenia Space’s satellites, this thruster will feature reduced weight and volume. Thales Alenia Space will guide thruster development to achieve a reliable, high-performance propulsion solution for small and medium satellites. Thales in Italy will support the environmental testing of the engineering model.

Commenting on the agreement, Massimo Claudio Comparini, CEO of Thales Alenia Space in Italy, said: “We are very proud to team up with Miprons, which is gaining increasing international recognition, since our collaboration could well change the paradigm for space missions. This agreement confirms Thales Alenia Space’s strategy to play a pivotal role in new space initiatives, reflected in synergies generated with exciting new startups that catalyze the entire space ecosystem. We are always willing to tackle new challenges that emphasize the growing strategic importance of the space sector.

Angelo Minotti, CEO and founder of Miprons, added: “I am extremely proud of our agreement with Thales Alenia Space. It’s truly a privilege to earn the trust of one of the world’s largest space companies. Our project, although still in its early stages, clearly has the potential to define a new paradigm in space, and we will do everything we can to have the system up and running as soon as possible.”