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FounderVlad Hruby
ProductsSpacecraft propulsion

Busek Co. Inc. is a spacecraft propulsion company providing thrusters, electronics, and complete systems for spacecraft.

Busek spaceflight heritage includes the first US Hall thruster in space (TacSat-2), the first electrospray thruster in space (LISA Pathfinder), four micro-pulsed plasma thrusters flown aboard FalconSat-3, and a BHT-200 Hall thruster flown aboard FalconSat-5.


Busek was founded in 1985 by Vlad Hruby and incorporated in Natick, Massachusetts. Starting as a small laboratory outside of Boston, Massachusetts, Busek facilities have expanded to over 20,000 square feet of laboratory, engineering, testing, and product assembly space.[1]

Aerojet, under license with Busek,[2][3] manufactured a 4 kW Hall thruster (the BPT-4000) which was flown aboard the USAF AEHF communications spacecraft. The thruster is credited with saving the first satellite by raising it to geosynchronous orbit after failure of the spacecraft's main apogee engine.[4]

Research and development[edit]


Busek's BIT-3 ion thruster operating on several propellants

Busek has demonstrated a variety of experimental xenon Hall thrusters at power levels up to and exceeding 20 kW.[5] Busek has also developed Hall thrusters that operate on iodine,[6][7][8] bismuth,[9][10] carbon dioxide,[11] magnesium,[12] zinc,[13] and other substances. In 2008, a xenon fueled Busek Hall thruster appeared in National Geographic.[14] An iodine fueled 200 W Busek Hall thruster will fly on NASA's upcoming iSat (Iodine Satellite) mission. Busek is also preparing a 600 Watt iodine Hall thruster system for future Discovery Class missions. [15]

Other publicized Busek technologies include RF ion engines[6] and a resistojet rocket.[16] Another focus is CubeSat propulsion,[6] proposed for the 2018 Lunar IceCube mission.[17]

As of July 2012, Busek was also working on a DARPA-funded program called DARPA Phoenix, which aims to recycle some parts of on-orbit spacecraft.[18]

In September 2013, NASA awarded an 18‑month Phase I contract to Busek to develop an experimental concept called High Aspect Ratio Porous Surface (HARPS) microthruster system for use in tiny CubeSat spacecraft.[19][20]

Busek patented the concept of an Air Breathing Hall Effect Thruster (ABHET) in 2004,[21] and with funding from the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts, started in 2011 a feasibility study that would be applied to Mars (Mars-ABHET or MABHET), where the system would breath and ionize atmospheric carbon dioxide.[22] The MABHET concept is based on the same general principles as JAXA's ABIE or ESA's ram-EP.[23] (See: Air-Breathing Electric Propulsion.)

ORbital DEbris Remover (ORDER)[edit]

In order to deal with human-caused space debris, Busek proposed in 2014 a remotely controlled vehicle to rendezvous with debris, capture it, and attach a smaller deorbit satellite to the debris, then drag the debris/smallsat-combination, by means of a tether, to the desired location. The larger sat would then tow the debris/smallsat combination to either deorbit or move it to a higher graveyard orbit by means of electric propulsion. The larger satellite is named the ORbital DEbris Remover, or ORDER which will carry over 40 SUL (Satellite on an Umbilical Line) deorbit sats plus sufficient propellant for the large number of orbital maneuvers required to effect a 40-satellite debris removal mission over many years. Busek is projecting the cost for such a space tug to be US$80 million.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About Busek". busek.com. Retrieved 2016-01-07.
  2. ^ Wilhelm, S. "In rocket technology, the ion is king of the jungle". Puget Sound Business Journal, May 16, 1999.
  3. ^ "Advanced Satellite Propulsion Technology" (PDF). Air Force SBIR Impact. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-09-03. Retrieved 2012-10-23.
  4. ^ Butler, A. "Faulty AEHF On Slow Trajectory To Orbit". Aviation Week & Space Technology, August 7, 2012.
  5. ^ Boyd, I.; Sun, Q.; Cai, C.; Tatum, K. "Particle Simulation of Hall Thruster Plumes in the 12V Vacuum Chamber" (PDF). IEPC Paper 2005-138, Proceedings of the 29th International Electric Propulsion Conference, Princeton University, 2005.
  6. ^ a b c Hruby, V. "Propulsion and Energy: Electric Propulsion (Year in Review, 2011)" (PDF). Aerospace America, December 2011.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ Szabo, J.; Pote, B.; Paintal, S.; Robin, M.; Hillier, A.; Branan, R.; Huffman, R. "Performance Evaluation of an Iodine-Vapor Hall Thruster". AIAA Journal of Propulsion and Power, Vol. 28, No. 4 (2012). Missing or empty |url= (help)
  8. ^ Marshall Space Flight Center. "Iodine-Compatible Hall Effect Thruster". NASA Tech Briefs, June, 2016.
  9. ^ Walker, M. "Propulsion and Energy: Electric Propulsion (Year in Review, 2005)" (PDF). Aerospace America, December 2005.
  10. ^ Marshall Space Flight Center. "Hall-Effect Thruster Utilizing Bismuth as Propellant". NASA Tech Briefs, 32, 11, November 2008.
  11. ^ Bergin, C. "Enabling the future: NASA call for exploration revolution via NIAC concepts". NASA Spaceflight.com, 9 January 2012.
  12. ^ Glenn Research Center. "Improved Hall Thrusters Fed by Solid Phase Propellant". NASA Tech Briefs, July 2015.
  13. ^ Szabo, J.; Robin, M.; Duggan, J..; Hofer, R. "Light Metal Propellant Hall Thrusters". IEPC paper 09-138, Proceedings of the 31st International Electric Propulsion Conference, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2009. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  14. ^ Stone, R. "Target Earth". Photograph by R. Alvarez, National Geographic, August 2008.
  15. ^ "Iodine Hall Thruster for Space Exploration". NASA SBIR/STTR Success Stories, 5 May 2016.
  16. ^ Goddard Space Flight Center. "Micro-Resistojet for Small Satellites". NASA Tech Briefs, June 2008.
  17. ^ "MSU's 'Deep Space Probe' selected by NASA for Lunar Mission". Morehead State University. 1 April 2015. Archived from the original on 26 May 2015. Retrieved 2015-05-26.
  18. ^ Johnson, C. "Boston-area firms to help recycle satellites". The Boston Globe, July 30, 2012.
  19. ^ Advanced In-Space Propulsion (AISP). NASA - Game Changing Development Program.
  20. ^ Small Satellite Propulsion. (PDF) page 12. AstroRecon 2015. January 8–10, 2015. Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona.
  21. ^ V. Hruby, B. Pote, T. Brogan, K. Hohman, J. J. Szabo, Jr., and P. S. Rostler. "Air breathing electrically powered Hall effect thruster". Busek Company, Inc., Natick, MA, USA, Patent US 6,834,492 B2, Dec. 2004.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  22. ^ K. Hohman; et al. "Atmospheric Breathing Electric Thruster for Planetary Exploration" (PDF). NIAC Spring Symposium, March 27–29, 2012.
  23. ^ AEP (Air-breathing Electric Propulsion) development for future low-orbit space flight. EO Portal. ESA.
  24. ^ Foust, Jeff (2014-11-25). "Companies Have Technologies, but Not Business Plans, for Orbital Debris Cleanup". Space News. Retrieved 2014-12-06.