ESA Satellite Powered by Butane Engine

An engine not unlike a butane cigarette lighter will power the GomX-4B radio communications satellite, which will launch in February, reports Aerospace.
Butane Satellite

Organized by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Danish Ministry of Defense, GomX-4A includes two butane thrusters supplied by the Swedish firm NanoSpace. The thrusters are designed to be small and simple.

“Storing it as a liquid, like a cigarette lighter, allows us to pack as many butane molecules as possible inside the small available volume—its liquid form being some 1000 times denser than its gas,” said NanoSpace CEO Tor-Arne Gronland. The mission is a test to show that the miniature satellite can successfully change orbit and communicate with a second unit via a radio link at varying distances.

The cereal box-sized satellite will fly around its near twin to test their radio communications. It will be launched with its counterpart from China, and is built from six standard CubeSat units. Much quicker to build and cheaper to launch than traditional satellites, ESA is making use of CubeSats for testing new technologies in space.

(SOURCE: The Weekly Propane Newsletter. PHOTO: GomSpace)