Japan Eyes World's First Release of Water-Propelled CubeSat from ISS

Science Society Technology

Tokyo, June 13 (Jiji Press)--A Japanese research team claims that it is ready for, in a world first, releasing a water-powered microsatellite from the International Space Station.

If the experimental satellite with a microthruster using water as a propellant operates successfully, it would promote the practical use of one- to 10-kilogram microsatellites called CubeSats to be released from the ISS in a wide range of fields, from telecommunications to entertainment, the group led by Hiroyuki Koizumi and Jun Asakawa, associate professor and assistant professor at the University of Tokyo, respectively, said Wednesday.

According to Koizumi and Asakawa, they and colleagues developed a cubic water-propelled engine roughly 10 centimeters on a side. The thruster uses the vacuum of space to evaporate water within the device, building up pressure. The vapor is then released to create propulsion.

They also made an experimental CubeSat, dubbed AQT-D, mounted with the innovative tiny propulsion system.

The AQT-D is scheduled be brought to the ISS by the Kounotori 8 unmanned cargo spacecraft and released from the Kibo Japanese experiment module of the ISS by March next year. After the release, the team will check the water-powered engine's performance and orbit adjustment ability.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

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