Microtest is one of the three Italian companies selected to be part of the ASPIRE programme for space exploration, a project financed by the European Commission within the Horizon 2020 SPACE-28-TEC-2020 open call.
The objective of ASPIRE, which stands for “Advanced Space Propulsion for Innovative Realization of Space Exploration”, is to further advance the development of a very high power electric propulsion system based on Sitael’s HT20k, a 20 kilowatt thruster that is one of the largest and most powerful in the World. The propulsion system was conceived to serve large platforms for Exploration and Space Transportation, thus enabling manned missions to the Moon and to Mars, as well as On Orbit Operation services.
A pan-European consortium of 8 companies and Institutions is developing this project. The companies involved in ASPIRE are from all over Europe: Sitael, which is also leading the consortium, the University of Pisa besides Microtest S.r.l. from Italy, Advanced Space Technology GmbH from Germany, the Imperial College of London from the United Kingdom, the Universitat Carlos III de Madrid from Spain and SME4Space from Belgium.
The ASPIRE project will last until June 2023.
The most innovative aspect of the project is a well-balanced mix of technology advancement at hardware level, of test campaigns on the developed propulsion system and of Artificial Intelligence Predictive modelling tools that will be used to forecast the system behaviour in the Space.