June 1, 2021, Dnipro, Ukraine – SETS, a provider of low-power plasma thrusters and electric propulsion systems owned by noted space entrepreneur Dr. Max Polyakov, has received a US patent for stabilized discharge power supply for its Hall thrusters. The patent makes SETS the only company in the world that is capable of manufacturing high-stability propulsion systems based on the Hall effect. This technology increases satellite lifecycle and helps to prevent the proliferation of space debris, a subject that Max Polyakov wrote about recently for the World Economic Forum. 

Led by Dr. Max Polyakov, the SETS engineering team has been looking for a solution to increase the stability of Hall thrusters, as the commonly-used method of stabilizing engine voltage discharge is too complicated to be efficient and may cause system malfunctions.

Usage of a stabilized discharge power supply will allow more flexibility in regulating the parameters of an electric rocket propulsion system in long-term operation onboard a spacecraft. A stabilized discharge power supply for Hall-effect thrusters ensures a steady value of thrust during long-term operation, and when changing the parameters of the onboard power supply of the spacecraft.

CEO of SETS, Viktor Serbin, said, “Dr. Polyakov initiated research on Hall-effect thruster stabilization in order to develop an improved technological solution for the space market. This technology will ensure the stable operation of satellite engines, and have a positive impact on a satellite’s service lifespan. Our technology is unique in the space market, and we expect that our propulsion systems will pique the interest of potential partners.”

The first SETS thrusters will go into orbit with the debut flight of the Firefly Aerospace Alpha rocket, planned for the summer of 2021, in order to conduct environmental tests in space. 

What is Hall-effect thruster

The Hall-effect thruster is a type of ion thruster in which the propellant is accelerated by an electric field. Hall-effect thrusters use a magnetic field to limit the electrons’ axial motion and then use them to ionize propellant, efficiently accelerate the ions to produce thrust, and neutralize the ions in the plume.