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Founded 1985
Founder Vlad Hruby
Headquarters Natick, Massachusetts, United States
Products Spacecraft propulsion
Website www.busek.com

Busek Co. Inc. is a spacecraft propulsion company providing thrusters, electronics, and complete systems for spacecraft.[1]

Busek spaceflight heritage includes the first US Hall thruster in space (TacSat-2),[2] the first electrospray thruster in space (LISA Pathfinder),[3] four micro-pulsed plasma thrusters flown aboard FalconSat-3,[4] and a BHT-200 Hall thruster flown aboard FalconSat-5.[5]


Busek was founded in 1985 by Vlad Hruby [1][6] 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.[7]

Flight missions[edit]

Busek products have spaceflight heritage on several missions, including:

LISA Pathfinder[edit]

The first spaceflight-qualified electrospray thruster was manufactured by Busek and launched aboard the European Space Agency's LISA Pathfinder satellite on December 3, 2015.[3] The micro-newton colloid-style electric thruster was developed under contract with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA ST-7 Program), and part of NASA’s Disturbance Reduction System (DRS) which serves a critical role in the LISA Pathfinder science mission.[8]


Busek's BHT-200 hall effect thruster

The first US Hall thruster flown space, Busek's BHT-200, was launched aboard the Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) TacSat-2 satellite.[9] The Busek thruster was part of the Microsatellite Propulsion Integration (MPI) Experiment and was integrated on TacSat-2 under the direction of the DoD Space Test Program. TacSat-2 launched on December 16, 2006 from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility.[2]


Busek delivered four MPACS (Micro-Propulsion Attitude Control Systems) that launched aboard the Air Force Academy’s FalconSat-3 mission on March 8, 2007 from Cape Canaveral. The MPACS are integrated micro-pulsed plasma thrusters (microPPTs)[10] and the first US-designed and built coaxial microPPTs in orbit. MPACS provides precise attitude control on small (< 100 kg) satellites and are valuable for missions requiring precise pointing (e.g., high-resolution imaging).[4]


Busek's Space Plasma Characterization Source was launched aboard the AFRL and USAF Academy's FalconSat- 5 satellite on November 2010.[11] The integrated unit consisted of an ammonia cold-gas thruster, a BHT-200 Hall effect thruster, high speed plasma probe, neutral source, propellant management system, Power Processing Unit (PPU), instrument electronics, and Digital Control Interface Unit (DCIU).[5]


Aerojet, under license with Busek,[12][13] 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.[14]

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.[15] Busek has also developed Hall thrusters that operate on iodine,[16][17] bismuth,[18][19] carbon dioxide,[20] and other substances. In 2008, a xenon fueled Busek Hall thruster appeared in National Geographic.[21] 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. [22]

Other publicized Busek technologies include RF ion engines[16][23] and a resistojet rocket.[24] Another focus is CubeSat propulsion,[16] proposed for the 2018 Lunar IceCube mission.[25]

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.[26]

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.[27][28]

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.[29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Busek, homepage
  2. ^ a b "TacSat-2". busek.com. Retrieved 2016-01-07. 
  3. ^ a b "Busek Electrospray Thrusters Launch aboard ESA's LISA Pathfinder" (PDF). Busek Space Propulsion. Busek. 3 December 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2016. 
  4. ^ a b "FALCONSAT-3". Busek Space Propulsion. Busek. Retrieved 7 January 2016. 
  5. ^ a b "FalconSat-5". busek.com. Retrieved 2016-01-07. 
  6. ^ "Dr. Vlad Hruby". zoominfo.com. 
  7. ^ "About Busek". busek.com. Retrieved 2016-01-07. 
  8. ^ "ST7 Lisa Pathfinder". busek.com. Retrieved 2016-01-07. 
  9. ^ "LISA Pathfinder" (PDF). Busek Space Propulsion. Buseik. 4 January 2005. Retrieved 7 January 2016. 
  10. ^ "FalconSat-3" (PDF). Busek Space Propulsion. Busek. 13 March 2007. Retrieved 7 January 2016. 
  11. ^ "FalconSat-5" (PDF). Busek Space Propulsion. Busek. 8 August 2011. Retrieved 7 January 2016. 
  12. ^ Wilhelm, S. "In rocket technology, the ion is king of the jungle". Puget Sound Business Journal, May 16, 1999. 
  13. ^ "Advanced Satellite Propulsion Technology" (PDF). Air Force SBIR Impact. 
  14. ^ Butler, A. "Faulty AEHF On Slow Trajectory To Orbit". Aviation Week & Space Technology, August 7, 2012. 
  15. ^ 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. 
  16. ^ a b c Hruby, V. "Propulsion and Energy: Electric Propulsion (Year in Review, 2011)" (PDF). Aerospace America, December 2011. 
  17. ^ 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). 
  18. ^ Walker, M. "Propulsion and Energy: Electric Propulsion (Year in Review, 2005)" (PDF). Aerospace America, December 2005. 
  19. ^ Marshall Space Flight Center. "Hall-Effect Thruster Utilizing Bismuth as Propellant". NASA Tech Briefs, 32, 11, November 2008. 
  20. ^ Bergin, C. "Enabling the future: NASA call for exploration revolution via NIAC concepts". NASA Spaceflight.com, 9 January 2012. 
  21. ^ Stone, R. "Target Earth". Photograph by R. Alvarez, National Geographic, August 2008. 
  22. ^ "Iodine Hall Thruster for Space Exploration". NASA SBIR/STTR Success Stories, 5 May 2016. 
  23. ^ "Busek Ion Thrusters". www.busek.com. Retrieved 2015-05-29. 
  24. ^ Goddard Space Flight Center. "Micro-Resistojet for Small Satellites". NASA Tech Briefs, June 2008. 
  25. ^ "MSU's 'Deep Space Probe' selected by NASA for Lunar Mission". Morehead State University. 1 April 2015. Retrieved 2015-05-26. 
  26. ^ Johnson, C. "Boston-area firms to help recycle satellites". The Boston Globe, July 30, 2012. 
  27. ^ Advanced In-Space Propulsion (AISP). NASA - Game Changing Development Program.
  28. ^ Small Satellite Propulsion. (PDF) page 12. AstroRecon 2015. January 8–10, 2015. Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona.
  29. ^ Foust, Jeff (2014-11-25). "Companies Have Technologies, but Not Business Plans, for Orbital Debris Cleanup". Space News. Retrieved 2014-12-06.