Space startup Phase Four unveils Maxwell, the first plasma propulsion solution for small satellites
Space startup Phase Four today unveils Maxwell, the first turn key plasma propulsion solution for small satellites. Maxwell combines a complete propellant management system and Phase Four’s proprietary RF (radio frequency) plasma thruster into a compact form factor.
Phase Four’s solution eliminates some of the most common failure points in incumbent technologies including: electrodes, high-voltage electronics, and complex fabrication. The startup has built a system that is reliable and offers high-performance with baked-in manufacturability. Designed with tomorrow’s satellites and constellations in mind, the P4 RF thruster brings SmallSats the same performance levels of large satellites, in a simpler form factor.
Founded in 2015 by J. P. Sheehan and Simon Halpern, the El Segundo, California-based startup is enabling the exponential growth of satellite constellations by solving the satellite’s costliest problem, the propulsion system. The company’s electrodeless RF thruster is the smallest plasma propulsion system available today, and can be scaled for use from CubeSat to SmallSat to school bus-sized satellites.
Its multidisciplinary team is made up of founding business leaders with a successful track record of commercializing cutting-edge technologies. We have complete spacecraft and propulsion construction, launch, and operations experience including LEO, HEO, GEO as well as interplanetary missions.
Designed with ease of integration and operation in mind, Maxwell expands what’s possible for small satellites and rises to the challenge of next generation spacecraft constellations. It combines simplicity with the powerful performance of complex traditional electric engines. In an industry first, Maxwell eliminates bulky high voltage components and electrodes, simultaneously reducing cost and removing supply chain barriers that have long plagued traditional satellite engines.
“We believe that customers shouldn’t have to choose between thrust and efficiency when it comes to propulsion. Maxwell provides the best of both worlds, delivering simple plug and play delta-V,” said Beau Jarvis, Phase Four CEO. “Maxwell will enable rapid ROI for low Earth orbit small sat constellations looking for 4-6 year operational lifetimes.”
Maxwell will be formally unveiled at the Small Satellite conference in Logan, Utah. Mark your calendars: 9:30am Mountain time on August 6, 2019 at Utah State University’s Eccles conference center in room 203.