Space Talos, a specialist in space radiation technology, has signed up to the national SPRINT business support programme to provide funded access to space testing facilities and expertise from the University of Southampton. The SPRINT project will enable Space Talos to validate the development of new technology for shielding sensitive equipment from radiation in space.
Active radiation shielding will significantly reduce costs of satellites to higher orbits, increase the reliability of service, increase the electronics speed and reduce energy consumption.
Space Talos is developing and optimising a Langmuir probe and dosimeters to determine the temperature and density of electron and ions within a plasma. Both sensors need to function within a high magnetic fields environment with large spatial variation. The collaboration with the University of Southampton will provide an experimental environment that mimics the ultra-high vacuum and ionised radiation found in space. This will allow Space Talos to estimate the critical dose of radiation before failure for harsh environments like space.
The project will be funded by a grant from the £4.8 million SPRINT (SPace Research and Innovation Network for Technology) programme that provides unprecedented access to university space expertise and facilities. SPRINT helps businesses through the commercial exploitation of space data and technologies.
Majed Jawad, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at Space Talos said: “The aim of the project is to validate technology to enable shielding of sensitive equipment in space, so it is essential for us to be able to simulate the space environment during testing and experimentation, which is why we required third party expertise.
“It was difficult to find the levels of expertise and resources that we required but the opportunity to work with the University of Southampton via the SPRINT programme enables us to access skills and facilities for high vacuum, plasma source and plasma creation. Whereas grant cycles can typically take up to 6-12 months which would have delayed our development, SPRINT offers a much faster process to secure funding and to facilitate the engagement with the University’s academic experts.”
Stephen Gabriel, Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics in the department of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton added: “Space Talos wanted to produce hydrogen plasma to simulate the space environment in which their device will operate. There aren’t many facilities that can simulate hydrogen plasma but the University’s vacuum facility can simulate a high vacuum in space. We’ve previously worked on other space applications for electric propulsion and tested with other non-Xenon gases.
“We have a very good working relationship with Space Talos and can discuss developments openly on the same technical level. This experience in a space environment will be a good collaboration.”