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UKSA announces US/UK space propulsion research partnership 

Hall Effect Space Thruster, built in the UK by Pulsar Fusion undergoing testing at the University of Southampton. Credit Pulsar Fusion
Hall Effect Space Thruster, built in the UK by Pulsar Fusion undergoing testing at the University of Southampton. Credit Pulsar Fusion

London, 16.08.2023.- The UK Space Agency announced on the 10th of August a partnership between Britain’s Pulsar Fusion and the University of Michigan. The trans-Atlantic project will develop an international relationship concerning electric propulsion research with the USA and UK. 

This collaboration will develop a relationship with the Plasma dynamics and Electric Propulsion Lab at the University of Michigan alongside Hall thruster companies: Pulsar Fusion (UK) and Starlight Engines (US), and the University of Southampton. 

Electric propulsion and Hall effect thrusters are a key technology enabler for spacecraft. They are found in a range of applications across different spacecraft missions including geostationary satellites and interplanetary missions. This includes robotic rendezvous missions such as those developed by Northrop Grumman and Astroscale, particularly for spacecraft de-orbiting, and interplanetary missions e.g. the Lunar Gateway Space Station and NASA Psyche mission. 

“This is another key US partnership for Pulsar – we continue to pursue best-in-class innovation, and this is particularly exciting given the global commercial interest in these engines,” said Richard Dinan, Pulsar Fusion CEO. “Following last month’s announcement of our work with Princeton Satellite Systems, we remain optimistic that companies like Pulsar can continue to advance our technologies whilst remaining in the UK with access to unparalleled scientific resources.”

Until now, there have been no collaborations between the UK and USA on Hall thruster research. The partnership will be funded from the first phase of the UK Space Agency’s £20 million International Bilateral Fund and is the second project awarded to Pulsar Fusion by the UKSA. 

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