MORPHEUS: Cutting-edge spacecraft propulsion

25 January 2019

The start-up company Morpheus Space develops complete nanosatellite propulsion systems opening up for a sustainable future in space. Meet Morpheus Space at the 10th Investment Forum in ESOC 31 January 2019.

Morpheus Space addresses handling debris, collision avoidance and agile constellations in space by smart NewSpace solutions, in line with what UN indicates on a sustainable future in space. This is done by using also Artificial Intelligent (AI) to identify the best solutions.

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Electric space propulsionAccess the image

“Our Mission is to pioneer a new trend in the space industry, where micro launchers are the go-to in-orbit transports for all kind of missions, since the Morpheus Space satellites will not be dependent anymore on the big rockets to deliver them in their desired orbit altitude. Our patented electric space propulsion technology is able to significantly modify the orbit of small satellites, significantly lower the launch costs,” says Daniel Bock, Morpheus Space CEO.

“And most notably enable agile constellation design, meaning that Morpheus designed satellites can continuously adapt their orbits and even add new satellites to the constellation itself.”

Morpheus Space highest goal is to show the NewSpace industry that a sustainable approach to nanosatellite missions means not just keeping the Low Earth Orbit clean by assuring a reentry into the atmosphere.

If the solutions for re-entry are taken into account early on in the design process of a space mission, new possibilities open up to optimize operations of small to large scale constellations, which lead in the end to better and smarter business models.

“We have developed our systems so it is easily modifiable (to optimize to the missions) without having a negative impact upon our production throughput or lead-time.”

Morpheus Space has developed four products:

- NanoFEEP – Complete Electric Propulsion System         
- MultiFEEP – Complete Electric Propulsion System         
- Collision Avoidance – Satellite Network Management Service (Tier 1)  
- Agile Constellations – Satellite Network Management Service (Tier 2)

Electric Propulsion Systems – NanoFEEP & MultiFEEP

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NanoFEEP in a one-unit (1U) CubeSatAccess the image

Morpheus Space technology was developed during many years of research at the Institute of Aerospace Engineering of TU Dresden.

At its core lies the FEEP technology specially developed for miniaturized applications using the low-melting metallic gallium propellant, as well as a chip-based neutralizer with the corresponding supply and control electronics. The system’s components are optimized to deliver the best propulsion performance for the least amount of space, mass and necessary electrical power, which are the most valuable commodities on board of a nanosatellite. Due to the system’s plug-and-play nature the integration into a satellite platform is easy and highly customizable in order to fulfill the propulsion requirements of almost all low Earth orbit missions.

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NanoFEEP in a three-unit (3U) CubeSatAccess the image

The NanoFEEP is a miniaturized ion thruster that uses a special low-melting point alloy as propellant.

The MultiFEEP design lies at the forefront of micro propulsion technology. This unique system have been created for satellite missions, which have challenging requirements with regard to total delta-V, maximum thrust levels and precise thrust vector control.

As the underlying technology is the same as with NanoFEEP, the same space mission inheritance and high level of reliability are provided, while delivering ten-times higher thrust and a maximum delta-V potential in the world of nanosatellite propulsion systems.

The UWE-4 satellite  (University Würzburg Experimental satellite-4), one of the first 1U CubeSats to host electric propulsion, was launched in December 2018.

Its primary mission was to fully characterize the Morpheus Space propulsion systems in orbit and provide the company`s propulsion systems with the most important attribute in the space industry: Flight Heritage.
   

Collision Avoidance
Currently there is no way of saving a nanosatellite from collisions with other objects. This not only means that in case of a collision, the satellite is lost, but also the whole orbit will be unusable for a long time. This has a great impact upon the bottom line of each satellite constellation operating company.

Even if the satellite would have the means of moving out of the way, the current prediction capabilities are approximately hours or a day at most.

Morpheus Space, in collaboration with its strategic partners, offers a never before seen collision avoidance service for nanosatellite. It is able to increase the prediction time to the order of weeks, which combined with the company`s agile propulsion system is more than enough to avoid almost all predictable collisions.

Agile Constellations

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MultiFEEP three units (3U)Access the image

This is achieved by an Artificial Intelligent (AI) controlled network of nanosatellites equipped with NanoFEEP and MultiFEEP.

Morpheus Space will be able for the first time, to truly build up satellite networks that can be operated as one entity, opening up new disrupting business opportunities and models in the NewSpace industry.

“A current and very serious problem in the space industry is the ever-growing space debris. To continue to use space in the future, the debris must be disposed of much faster as that is the case naturally,” explains István Lőrincz,,Morpheus Space CBO.

“We, at Morpheus Space, have aligned our core values with those of the UN when we speak about a sustainable future in space and on Earth. Our technology can be used for this purpose.

“With NanoFEEP, a small CubeSat who would otherwise be in orbit for 25 years could be propelled back into the atmosphere within 2 years. With MultiFEEP, one can even dispose of a 6U CubeSat within 2 years, which would otherwise orbit for 1000 years as a space debris,” adds Daniel Bock.

“Morpheus Space supports sustainability in space and on Earth by opening up possibilities for the industry to optimize satellite operations.”

Morpheus Space team at ESA Investment Forum

The company team includes Daniel Bock (CEO), István Lőrincz (CBO), Christian Schunk (CTO), Christian Boy (Head of Production), Philipp Laufer (Head of R&D) and Prof. Martin Tajmar (Advisor).

Morpheus Space will participate to the 10th ESA Investment Forum 31 January 2019.

The ESA Investment Forum is an ESA space solutions event organized by ESA Business Incubation Centre (ESA BIC) Hessen and Baden-Württemberg in partnership with High-Tech Gründerfonds Management GmbH and Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. (DLR)

The aim is to foster investments in start-ups operating in the space domain as well as within related application domains, downstream as well as upstream. It provides a platform for networking as well as matchmaking between innovative space start-ups and investors.

ESA BICs - World's largest ecosystem for space-related entrepreneurship

The ESA Business Incubation Centre (ESA BIC) Hessen and Baden-Württemberg is part of the ESA space solutions network of 20 ESA BICs throughout Europe.

The centres are operated under ESA’s Technology Transfer and Business Incubation Programme Office (TTPO) with the European network of Technology Transfer Brokers. Together they offer access to all aspects of space-related innovation, technology and intellectual properties and is a gateway to ESA and European space research and developments.

The 20 ESA BICs in 17 European countries – Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands and UK – are forming the largest ecosystem in the world for space-related entrepreneurship. The 21th centre is soon to open in Northern Germany and more centres are already under preparation.

Over 700 start-ups have been fostered and another near 180 new start-ups are taken in yearly at the ESA BICs to be supported under the two-years business development boosting programme.

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