The Institut de Combustion Aérothermique Réactivité Environnement (ICARE), a subsidiary of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and EXOTRAIL SA have concluded a strategic agreement that will result in the creation of a joint laboratory dubbed ORACLE, from the French “labORAtoire Commun propuLsion Electrique”.
The objective of this major partnership is to accelerate advancements in the electric micro-propulsion of nano and micro-satellites through scientific and technological cooperation. ORACLE will result in :
A human and technical partnership uniting expertise and agility;
Pooling of equipment and investment in advancements and new technologies;
A synergy and convergence of the work and its applications.
ORACLE will focus on miniature Hall propulsion systems, suitable for nano and micro-satellites from ten to several hundred kilograms. Research carried out within ORACLE will fall into the New Space Sector (Private sector commercial initiatives) of the Space Industry and has the potential to significantly impact on the development of constellations of small satellites for Earth observation, Telecommunications, Defense and Internet Connected objects (Internet of Things/ IoT).
The work will focus on the miniaturization of Hall thrusters, a challenge both scientific and technological, and on the design of new generation thrusters that are more efficient, more flexible and capable of responding to various needs in terms of space missions.
By combining the expertise of state-of-the-art technologies with a mastery of the small satellite market ecosystem, ORACLE will become a major propulsion player for nano and micro-satellites, a competitive and strategic field for France and Europe.
Mr Stéphane Mazouffre, Director of Research ICARE said: "The alliance between ICARE and Exotrail is an example of perfect synergy in the space sector. The joint laboratory will be able to progress our understanding of the complex physical mechanisms involved in these propulsive systems. In return, scientific progress will allow Exotrail to develop their commercial high-performance miniature thrusters. This partnership is the best approach to meet the expectations of stakeholders in a strategic, ultra-competitive and rapidly evolving field.
Mr David Henri, CEO of Exotrail said: “ICARE was a pioneer in the field of miniaturization of electric thrusters, long before the era of small satellites; and Exotrail is one of the leading players in this global market. ORACLE is, therefore, a unique technical complementarity in Europe: the alliance of a leading scientific player with a technological and industrial start-up. It is the pooling of science and sharp market expertise. The next 5 years will bring major changes in the space industry - ORACLE will allow us to remain at the forefront of innovation to cope with these changes.”