The proposed innovation is a low cost system for conducting prospecting missions at asteroids, Near Earth Objects (NEOs), planets, and their satellites. In one scenario, NASA could use the system to identify and analyze possible asteroid targets before sending a more costly mission to land on or capture one for mining purposes. The system can be altered to fit many different mission profiles. The high delta V iodine hall thruster makes it possible to choose between a variety of targets, including the moon, Mars, or an asteroid. The use of iodine in the propulsion system allows the system to be much lower cost than the typical xenon SEP system without sacrificing performance. The system can also function as an electric upper stage for small launch vehicles, or could be the basis for a technology demonstration in support of the Asteroid Retrieval Mission. The system may also be used to delivery CubeSats to high orbits, or for spacecraft servicing and recovery.
The proposed system can be adapted to non-NASA commercial applications. One is commercial prospecting and mining of space resources. Another application is a High impulse solar electric upper stage for commercial launch vehicles uses for the system include using the SOUL units as a way to attach to and repair satellites in orbit, or capture tumbling space debris. In addition, the system would be a valuable technology demonstrator for iodine-fueled hall thrusters. The spacecraft interactions model is a vital step toward commercial station-keeping and orbit maintenance applications with iodine plasma generators of all shapes and sizes.