Lab to launch

Christine Charles, Dimitris Tsifakis, Alex Bennet, Rod Boswell, Weston Braun, Juan Rivas-Davila, Kazunori Takahashi, Akira Ando, Eszter Dudas, Abdessamad Benidar, Robert Georges, Scott Doyle, James Dedrick, Félicien Filleul, John Cater, Nicholas Rattenbury

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Thousands of small satellites (such as CubeSats) are expected to be launched over the next decade. Electric propulsion has been an innovative solution in a number of space missions (e.g. deep space) but its scalability remains a challenge. Many mature or under development space propulsion systems could also benefit from more compact and efficient power supplies. Pocket Rocket is an inexpensive Australian-born miniaturised electrothermal radio frequency plasma thruster which uses environmentally friendly propellant such as argon. The Australian Space Agency was recently launched: a complete end-to-end small satellite industry "Lab to Launch" is now available wholly within the Trans Australasian Pacific region, thanks to the recent demonstration of Rocket Lab's access to orbit and successful commercial launches with the Electron Rocket. Various academic groups have joined forces to pave a path to space heritage for Pocket Rocket and other related electric propulsion systems (i.e. inductive/wave radiofrequency thrusters, radiofrequency neutralizers) and sub-systems (propellant and power) while extending the basic understanding of magnetised and unmagnetized plasma nozzle physics. The latter is of major importance for gaining further insight into solar corona physics and space weather as well as for evaluating new concepts for space debris removal.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberIAC-19_C4_4_1_x55179
JournalProceedings of the International Astronautical Congress, IAC
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event70th International Astronautical Congress, IAC 2019 - Washington, United States
Duration: 2019 Oct 212019 Oct 25


  • Electric propulsion
  • Inductively coupled plasma
  • Nano-satellite
  • Radiofrequency
  • Space debris
  • Thruster


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