[Via Satellite 12-04-2014] The Special Purpose Inexpensive Satellite (SpinSat) has been deployed from the International Space Station (ISS) through the Japanese Experiment Module Airlock (JEMAL). The 50-kg, 22-inch diameter spacecraft is dotted with a series of thrusters that will test an Electrically-controlled Solid Propellant (ESP) system from Digital Solid State Propulsion (DSSP).
ESPs are insensitive to flames or electrical sparks. It is only by applying an electric current that they ignite, making them significantly safer than conventional propellants.
The SpinSat demonstration mission is underway through a partnership between DSSP and the United States Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). The three goals of the mission are to characterize the performance of ESP thrusters on orbit, to gauge the Space Surveillance Network’s ability to observe and characterize state changes induced by ESP firings, and to provide a calibrated drag experiment at higher solar activity than previous NRL missions.