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OCS 2020 Breakout: Michael Bretti, Applied Ion Systems

Joseph (JJ) Jacks
COSS missionary
・2 min read

Michael Bretti is the founder of Applied Ion Systems (AIS), a one-man propulsion startup and the first fully open source, independent electric propulsion R&D company in the world, working on the development of ultra-low cost open source plasma and ion thrusters for nanosatellites such as Cubesats and PocketQubes. Due to its radically unique development model, AIS is able to rapidly design and test electric propulsion far faster and cheaper than conventional approaches, fully funded through bootstrapping and community donations alone, and provide propulsion systems at an order of 10x cost reduction from competitive technologies currently on the market, allowing any nanosat team or lab to access advanced propulsion systems. AIS also provides educational resources and critical build data for the hobbyist, student, and nanosat communities on electric propulsion. Michael Bretti’s work through AIS has been featured at several open source hardware conferences, such as OSCW 2019 in Athens, Greece and the OSH 2020 Summit. AIS will have its first two open source plasma thruster systems aboard the AMSAT-Spain GENESIS N and L PocketQubes, scheduled for launch in September 2020, with additional launch opportunities in the works for new thrusters. AIS has also collaborated with several other open source companies such as The Libre Space Foundation and Fossa Systems to continue to expand development and testing of these systems. With the design of new thrusters like the AIS-ILIS1 ionic liquid ion source electrospray thruster, AIS is significantly diverging from conventional propulsion approaches in the field, and helping lead a new wave of open source hardware technologies for space applications.

Relevant Links
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Open source ion thrusters will accelerate the advent of multi-planetary civilization.

Michael’s introduction and presentation topic: Lowering the Barrier of Entry in Electric Propulsion for Nanosats Through Open Source Development - 0:00

Michael’s background - 0:24

What is Electric Propulsion (EP)? - 1:04

Why do we need propulsion? - 2:08

Walking through Current Issues Facing the EP Field. Exorbitantly expensive, lengthy development, extremely high barrier of entry, single stream development, funding structure, no financial incentive to develop low-cost entry-level propulsion, lack of transparency. - 3:21

Why open source? - 11:30

Challenges of Open Source Hardware - 13:40

The Applied Ion Systems Approach - 16:32

Lowering the Barriers: 1. Low Cost Simplified Design, 2. Simplified Testing Infrastructure, 3. Open Design, Testing, and Development, 4. Open Source Hardware Licensing - 18:00

Open Source Thrusters In Action! Going through videos of AIS thrusters - 25:12

Open Collaboration - Demonstrating the First Open Source Thrusterse to Orbit - 29:03

An Unconventional Journey: How Open Source Has Shaped AIS - 31:40

Links to learn more, follow, and contribute - 35:33


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