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IENAI SPACE Wins ESA Contracts for Propulsion System

Electrospray emitters at the core of the ATHENA thrusters. Credit: IENAI SPACE

Ibadan 27 February 2023. – IENAI SPACE, an in-space mobility provider based in Madrid, Spain, has received two European Space Agency (ESA) contracts within the General Support Technology Program (GSTP), with a total budget of EUR 1.2 million. The contracts will allow the Company to mature and further develop their ATHENA (Adaptable THruster based on Electrospray powered by NAnotechnology) propulsion systems, a prototype version of the propulsion system flew aboard Firefly’s first flight to orbit in October 2022.

Within the GSTP Element 2, ATHENA will pass through strict engineering processes and critical ESA guidance, ensuring a versatile, reliable, and robust system capable of performing in the harsh conditions of space and the most trying missions. The technology will also pass through full ground qualifications, readying it for future in-orbit demonstration missions.

Commenting on the award, Daniel Pérez Grande, CEO & Cofounder of IENAI SPACE, stated, “this GSTP is both a ‘seal of approval’ from ESA and the Spanish CDTI. We’re extremely grateful for their support and also to bring along world-class partners such as Elecnor Deimos or Madrid Space, which are fundamental in our push to industrialize the technology.”

The second project, within the GSTP Element 1, will pursue the research and development of new “high thrust” modes for ATHENA, critical for fast constellation deployment or future collision avoidance maneuvers, which have now become the norm in Low Earth Orbit.

Likewise, Jose Gonzalez del Amo noted, “the new space market will require high efficiency and reliable propulsion systems that can enhance the lifetime and capabilities of the space projects to come. IENAI is today creating the future electrospray system that will respond to future market demands with an enthusiastic and highly qualified team.”

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