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CAT: A Thruster for Interplanetary CubeSats

A project in Ann Arbor, MI by Benjamin Longmier, Ph.D.

Funding Unsuccessful

The CAT plasma thruster will propel a 5kg satellite into deep space, far beyond Earth orbit, at 1/1000th the cost of previous missions.
Backers: 1274
Average Pledge Per Backer: $53

Funded: $67,865 of $200,000
Dates: Jul 4th -> Aug 5th (33 days)
Project By: Benjamin Longmier, Ph.D.
spacescienceeducational +Suggest

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Last Updated: August 5 @ 17:01 -0400 GMT


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Latest News

Crowdfunding University Research

July 27th - via:
The CAT Kickstarter campaign is the first crowdfunding campaign for a research project at the University of Michigan and the university has been really supportive. University research doesn't have to happen in a black box, especially where there are... (Read More)

Deep Space Industries endorses CAT

July 22nd - via:
Deep Space Industries endorses the CAT engine: FACEBOOK TWITTER GOOGLE+  YOUTUBE... (Read More)

1000 backers, 20% funded, 15 days to go

July 21st - via:
Dear CAT team, We are now 1000 backers strong, 20% funded to the $200k goal, and have 15 days left to make that goal.   A few of you have already been spreading the word in places like reddit and your own blogs. If you are an avid reader of or have... (Read More)

Laser etched solar panels, new $50 reward.

July 18th - via:
Dear CAT team, We have released a new $50 reward: a laser engraved CubeSat solar cell with the message "Our team thanks you for taking space exploration into your own hands. -CAT " Each solar cell comes out of Michigan eXploration Lab and measures... (Read More)

Crowdfunding Campaign Bids to Launch Tiny Interplanetary Probe

July 18th - via:
Researchers have launched a crowdfunding campaign for a propulsion system that could send loaf-sized satellites on interplanetary voyages. (Read More)

Kickstarter Asks Public’s Help to Propel CubeSats into Deep Space

July 18th - via:
ANN ARBOR, MI - Two University of Michigan engineering professors are turning to the Kickstarter online community to help fund an interplanetary satellite mission. They are teaming up to create two new technologies in a matter of months, with the goal of using a plasma thruster to push a CubeSat into deep space – something that has never been done before. (Read More)

Our team just finished cleaning and assembling the next generation CAT engine. She is almost ready for plasma testing later next week!

July 17th - via:
Dear CAT team, Just a quick update that my students finished : 0) Critical design review of the thruster was passed last week, led by grad student Tim Collard 1) Finished vacuum chamber acceptance testing (gets down to 3x10-7 Torr, lower pressure... (Read More)

NASA tweets about CAT

July 16th - via:
NASA's Flight Opportunities Program tweets about CAT. This is the NASA group that runs the Microgravity Program, and now the suborbital rocket program. Our team has submitted a proposal and is hopeful to fly some of the CAT propellant tank subsystems... (Read More)

UM Engineering Profs Hold Out E-Cup On Kickstarter

July 16th - via:
A pair of young professors boldly go where no UM faculty member has gone before. "Developing technology is moving so much faster [than federal grants]. We’re trying to short-circuit that process.” Rather than taking a long and winding grant-request path, they're panhandling, in effect, to kick start a University of Michigan space-launch project. (Read More)

Space for all

July 14th - via:
Dear CAT team, We have been hard at work assembling our hardware for the latest CAT engine for lab testing. (photos later this week) I just wanted to send along this nice article from NBC news on CubeSats in general. Our team (and Your project!) are... (Read More)

Shiny New Facebook Page

July 9th - via:
The CAT is on Facebook!  Be sure to like us to stay up to date on our progress and promote our project!  (Read More)

Tiny Robotic Cubes Could Rule the Solar System

July 8th - via:
Launching stuff into space is an expensive business, but what if we were able to miniaturize an entire spacecraft into the size of a loaf of bread? According to a pair of engineers from the University of Michigan who have just begun a Kickstarter campaign to get their concept funded, an armada of tiny low-cost probes could be sent on interplanetary missions to destinations we can currently only dream about. (Read More)

Kickstarting tiny satellites into interplanetary space

July 5th - via:
ANN ARBOR, MI - Two University of Michigan engineering professors are turning to the Kickstarter online community to help fund an interplanetary satellite mission. (Read More)

Plasma thruster could propel small satellites into deep space for cheap

July 4th - via:
A few years from now, we might be able to send small satellites into deep space for cheap using a new propulsion system being developed by University of Michigan engineers -- assuming they raise enough money via Kickstarter. Called CAT (CubeSat Ambipolar Thruster), it's designed to propel 10 x 10 x 10 centimeter CubeSat blocks far beyond the planet's orbit using only solar energy for fuel. (Read More)

Kickstarter plasma thruster could launch nano-satellites for cheap (Wired UK)

July 4th - via:
A Kickstarter project is attempting to raise funds for a plasma thruster that will propel mini satellites into deep space for a 1/1000th of the cost of previous missions (Read More)

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