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The University of Michigan Department of Engineering’s vision is to enable extremely low-cost access to deep space. The department is developing the CubeSat Ambipolar Thruster (CAT), a new rocket propulsion system powered by the sun and propelled by water, which will push small spacecraft like CubeSats around far beyond the Earth.
New propulsion technologies can cost billions of dollars and take a decade to build and launch. CAT will be one of least expensive and most rapidly developed deep-space-capable systems ever built.
Space exploration has traditionally been expensive, many spacecraft launched today are the size of a truck and can cost over 1 billion dollars. CAT will be tested on a CubeSat, a small satellite the size of a loaf of bread. Cube Sats cost 1,000 to 10,000 times less to develop and launch than conventional satellites.
To date, only a few satellites have explored our vast Solar System. Once the CAT engine is proven, CubeSats will finally have the potential to reach deep space, something that has never been achieved.
We live in a world of 20-30 mpg of fossil fuels. “Powered by the sun and propelled by water” sounds like science fiction, right? With CAT technology, solar-powered spacecraft can someday average over 1 billion miles per gallon using only water for fuel.
Flight-demonstrated CAT engine technology will enable a wide variety of exciting scientific and commercial opportunities. By contributing to the CAT campaign, you have helped future spacecraft make amazing discoveries about extraterrestrial bodies and further our understanding of the near-Earth environment, the Solar System, and beyond.
With your purchase of a scarf, you are not only raising awareness, but $10 will be donated University of Michigan Aerospace.
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