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Leading the Way Toward Space Propulsion Technology

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satellite orbiting the Earth

Space Propulsion Technology Portfolio

Serving clients in Washington, D.C., our team at Strategic Solutions Integrated, Inc (SSI) is skilled in understanding the space industry (government and commercial) and the challenges of operations from low earth orbit to deep space.

We work closely with innovative technologists who are on the cutting edge of space propulsion design and are ensuring the next revolutionary breakthrough in space propulsion is introduced to the market place.

Disruptive Thruster Technology -  The Zero Propellent Thruster (ZPT)™

The ZPT™ is a disruptive technology and will change how space operations are conducted in the foreseeable future. The core technology uses interactions with the earth’s magnetic field to generate thrust. This new propulsion technology requires no on-board propellant to generate thrust, requires limited power to operate, features a small form factor, has no moving parts, is scalable, provides unlimited Delta V based on available power, and operates from 200 Km to 2000 Km without superconducting modifications. With a 500µN thruster, a 3U CubeSat is capable of changing altitudes and inclinations (4.5m/sec/day = 50-mile altitude change in 2-weeks with zero fuel penalty). The Maze 1 is a 3U or 6U satellite bus; and, is scalable to larger. On-station time at 250 Km is > 5years. Competitors on-station time at this altitude is < one week. Essentially the ZPT™ operates until failure of satellite bus.

The ZPT™ eliminates the need for on-board propellant resulting in:

  • Extended on-station times reducing launch requirements and costs by 33%;
  • Eliminating decommissioning fuel penalty (20%) and reduced cost to launch/increase payload; Shortened decommissioning timeline by years saving decommission costs (i.e., insurance, monitoring, collision calculation, manpower etc.);
  • Extreme LEO operations (180 km – 350 km): de-orbit in weeks/days, no debris challenge, reduce communication latency issues, improve optical resolution at no cost increase;
  • Reduced launch cost to orbit – launch to lower orbits & migrate cost-free to desired orbit, greater stability, lower heat signature, increased revenue generating payloads, improved resilience, agility, maneuverability and increased orbit availability, rapid inclination and orbit changes, and operations at 200 km to 2000 km indefinitely. 

The graph at the left depicts satellite lifespan vs initial deployment altitude with no thrust. A satellite with no thrust deployed at 400 km, plunged into the relatively thick atmosphere of a solar maximum will reenter after about 6 months. At 250 km, about a week, at 200 km a day. This scenario features a heavy, high-momentum 8kg satellite with a very small ram-area footprint of only 0.023 square meters. Satellites launched from the International Space Station or a launch platform from 410 -450 km that are not using thrust (no-thrust satellite or satellites that have expended their payload fuel on maneuvering operations) during a solar maximum will operate for 6 months and much shorter if deployed at lower altitudes.

Operations at solar minimum are inconsistent due to atmospheric density varying with the day/night cycle and with occasional spikes of solar energy from flares, etc., making this an unrealistic planning factor for satellite operations. For these reasons, it is not operationally reasonable or cost-effective to operate a fuel limited, thruster satellite or a no-thrust satellite in extreme LEO (< 400 km). Employing a technology in extreme LEO that operates for years at no payload/fuel penalty is highly valuable to the satellite communications, earth imaging, and military communities.

The green area in the graph to the right represents early laboratory validated thrust that the ZPT™ provides. Due to the prograde-direction, the ZPT™ is expected to provide between .25 and 1 millinewton (mN) thrust. Even this small amount of thrust available on every orbit combined with no propellant requirement is sufficient to maintain very low orbits indefinitely. The orange line shows the thrust needed to maintain a 6U Cubesat indefinitely at a given altitude during solar maximum. The green line shows twice what's necessary during a solar maximum -- this represents a healthy margin to cover random variation from solar flares, brief periods of lost contact with the satellite, and the option to climb up to a higher orbit if desired. Note the points where the green line (2x solar max) enters and exits the green box. If there is 0.25 mN of continuous propellantless thrust, the satellite can comfortably maintain an orbit of 280 km and at 1 mN it operates comfortably at 220 km. Both significantly below the International Space Station.

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