JPL together with Goddard and a private company called Busek Company Inc. developed a new type of propulsion system known as micronewton thrusters for the LISA mission (which has since had a name change and a rescoping). The goal of these small thrusters is to maintain the position of a spacecraft from small external disturbances such as solar winds and radiation pressure. They were to be used on the LISA mission to have the spacecraft precisely follow the freely floating, mirrored, test masses inside of the spacecraft, the positions of which were to be measured by interferometry. My questions are:
- What is the expected lifetime of the micronewton thrusters?
- What is the propulsion method employed; i.e. chemical, electric, etc.?
- Have they been flight tested yet?