The proposed technology has numerous applications to NASA missions improving both scientific and practical capabilities. Precision pointing applications include science objectives, such as exoplanet observations, laser communications and space situational awareness (SSA). In all cases, the greatly improved pointing over existing SoA (e.g reaction wheels) afforded by the proposed technology would both enhance pointing accuracy/stability and reduce the need for complex vibration and control accuracy mitigation strategies such as the use of active optics (e.g. fast steering mirrors). Laser communication benefits are particularly relevant with active NASA programs pursuing, for example, optical communication for Mars missions. SSA and identification of solar system objects would benefit from an ability to track commanded attitude profiles to <1 pixel. Long integration times can then be facilitated permitting resolution of very dim (small) objects. This system also applies to precise position control. Disturbance reduction has been demonstrated in space by larger versions of Busek's colloid thrusters on the NASA ST-7/ ESA LISA Pathfinder mission. Comparatively, the BET-1mN offers both higher maximum thrust and enhanced specific impulse; and therefore, lower propellant mass requirements. As an evolution of that work this program will enable other aspects of the NASA Disturbance Reduction System (DRS), such as controllers developed by GSFC to have new application routes.
Potential non-NASA customers include, international partners (such as ESA), the DoD and commercial EO missions. The readily configurable nature of the proposed technology would enable customized applications to simultaneously meet customer needs in precision pointing and disturbance compensation; therefore, maximizing the commercial applicability of the technology. Furthermore, the ability to scale both thrust output and boom moment arm, by virtue of Busek and ROCCORs respective scalable technologies, enables rapid customization of the system. Commercial EO applications may include optical communication pointing, supporting high bandwidth up/downlinks or precision pointing in earth orbit for earth observation organizations. With strong links to the now TRL-7 electrospray system Busek demonstrated on the LISA Pathfinder mission; the time is now right for other organizations to embrace this technology. The proposed effort will ensure such entities have access to a fully featured and versatile system.