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Neumann to adapt electric propulsion system

Neumann Space is to adapt its electric propulsion system so it can be fitted onboard a satellite owned by US environmental data provider Spire.

It comes shortly after the Australian company confirmed it had completed the initial tests of its Neumann Drive system launched in June.

Neumann has previously said its electric technology is simpler than traditional chemical propulsion methods and allows for the potential for spacecraft to be effectively refuelled and deorbited more easily. This includes harnessing space debris for fuel.

The local firm said the partnership with New York-listed Spire was made possible due to government funding obtained as part of the Australian Space Manufacturing Network (ASMN).


ASMN is designed to advance research and commercialisation of new space technologies.

Neumann and Spire have signed a memorandum of understanding outlining the pair’s intent to collaborate on an in-orbit demonstration mission by integrating the Neumann Drive on a Spire satellite.

Neumann Space’s chief executive officer, Herve Astier, said, “We are excited about the opportunity the ASMN project has provided us to work together with Spire to further the development of this sovereign space technology and to tailor our technology to their needs in delivering greater knowledge and insights about Earth.”

The news comes days after Neumann separately revealed it had successfully completed the first series of on-orbit tests of its Neumann Drive.


It believes it’s now the first commercial entity to fire a thruster in space that utilises molybdenum as a solid metallic propellant.

The first-generation Neumann Drive was integrated into a Skykraft-3 satellite launched into space in June. The on-orbit testing was designed to validate the system’s electronics, demonstrate the charging of its power capacitors, and conduct a test firing of the thruster.

Further missions are scheduled later this year and in 2024.

The ASMN is led by Gilmour Space Technologies, which is also separately working with Neumann to create a more powerful version of the Neumann Drive.

Earlier this year, Space Connect reported how the upgraded version could be used in the international smallsat market. They believe the partnership will yield product compatibility for satellites up to 500 kilograms and superior mobility in space.

“As a member of the Australian Space Manufacturing Network, we are very pleased to participate in a project that sees the private and public sectors come together to advance the development and commercialisation of leading sovereign space technologies with a global market,” said Astier.

“Access to Gilmour Space Technologies’ satellite interfaces and their talented team are both integral to supporting the successful product design, integration, and testing of a more powerful Neumann Drive. This is an important milestone for Neumann Space in the commercialisation of our technology and the expansion of our business into new markets.”

Adam Thorn

Adam Thorn

Adam is a journalist who has worked for more than 40 prestigious media brands in the UK and Australia. Since 2005, his varied career has included stints as a reporter, copy editor, feature writer and editor for publications as diverse as Fleet Street newspaper The Sunday Times, fashion bible Jones, media and marketing website Mumbrella as well as lifestyle magazines such as GQ, Woman’s Weekly, Men’s Health and Loaded. He joined Momentum Media in early 2020 and currently writes for Australian Aviation and World of Aviation.

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