NanoSatellites are satellites in the range 1-10kg. Of this particular class are the CubeSats, cubic modular satellites of “10cm sides – 1kg weight” for each module/unit (the most common are the 3U-satellites). Defined for academic purposes and necessities (low budget projects), a fundamental boost has been impressed by the MEMS fabrication technology (Micro Eectrical Mechanical Systems), which has permitted components miniaturization. Moreover, CubeSats become of interest in the government and industry communities, since the benefit of swarm satellite technologies has become more apparent.
Up to 2016, several hundreds of nanosat have been already launched, and several thousands are foreseen in the next years. Their miniaturized dimensions oblige them to operate in orbits determined by the deployment of the main payload and none is capable of realizing orbits changes/control, formation flying, proximity operations, fine attitude control, lifetime extension and/or de-orbiting. To accomplish these manoeuvres, a propulsion system beyond the current state of the art is mandatory: it must be both consistent with the CubeSats cost/mass-volume limitations and, simultaneously, enough powerful to permit orbits maneuvers.
Dr. Minotti has been investigating, by means of the “MIPRONS (MIcroPropulsion for NanoSatelltes)” private project, a new nano satellite propulsion systems and his research has lead to a “patent“, in addition to some “papers“.