The company, based in Bothell, Wash., is developing the Hydros as a safe-to-launch propulsion system for CubeSats and other small satellites. The thrusters measure about 4 inches wide. They run on hydrogen and oxygen, which can be produced in space by splitting water molecules (H2O) using solar-powered electrolysis.
Hydrogen and oxygen gases are burned in the thrusters to propel satellites during maneuvers. The propulsion method is similar to the principle that’s been used for the space shuttle main engines and Blue Origin’s BE-3 rocket engine, but on a much smaller scale.
Tethers Unlimited says the water-electrolysis method makes it possible for tiny satellites to carry a fuel source that’s non-explosive, non-toxic and unpressurized.