French startup Exotrail signed a contract with York Space Systems to provide propulsion for a cislunar communications satellite. Credit: Exotrail

Correction: This article was updated Sept. 8 at 12:30 pm Eastern time. Since the launch in 2020 of NanoAvionics’s R2 cubesat, the Exotrail thruster has propelled it 10 kilometers, not 700 meters as previously reported. 

SAN FRANCISCO – York Space Systems plans to rely on Exotrail electric propulsion for a mission to provide Earth-to-moon communications services from cislunar orbit.

French startup Exotrail plans to deliver its ExoMG – cluster² thruster to York Space Systems in 2022, under a contract signed in August. York plans to integrate the thruster into its S-class satellite to provide communications for Intuitive Machines’ lander scheduled to travel to the lunar south pole in late 2022.

Sébastien Duménil, Exotrail vice president for sales, marketing and business development, said in a statement that Exotrail executives are “more than happy and honored to have been selected by York” for the cislunar mission.

Exotrail announced in January that its miniature Hall-effect thruster propelled a NanoAvionics R2 cubesat. The NanoAvionics cubesat launched in November 2020 on an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle relied on ExoMG to change its semi-major axis by 10 kilometers.

Exotrail is developing and manufacturing thrusters for satellites with mass of 10 to 250 kilograms. The company also sells flight operations software called ExoOPS.

The York contract “confirms ExoMG product positioning to provide mobility solutions for a very broad range of missions from low Earth to geostationary orbit and beyond,” Duménil said.

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...