The AIS-VAT1-PQ Micro Vacuum Arc Thruster is the smallest of the thrusters in the AIS-VAT Series, serving as a powerful ultra low-cost platform for 1.5P PocketQubes up to 1U Cubesats. The VAT1-PQ leverages extreme simplicity in both the electronics and thruster design itself, making the thruster highly compact, low-cost, easy to manufacture, and simple to integrate. At only 42x42x21mm in volume, and available in either 2.5W or 5W options, with simple triggering and high firing reliability, the VAT1-PQ allows for any nanosat and picosat team to explore the use of EP with minimal volume and power budget. The VAT1-PQ also opens the door for an extremely low-cost off-the-shelf propulsion system for ground testing for academic, student, and research use. At only $2500.00 in price, the VAT1-PQ is also the lowest cost off-the-shelf electric propulsion system on the market.

While most micro-VATs utilize Titanium fuel, due to the inherent physics and lifetime constraints associated with triggerless micro-VAT technology at this scale, it can be demonstrated that what is needed for practical total impulse at this scale is thrust efficiency rather than ISP. Because of this, AIS has developed the VAT1-PQ exclusively optimized around solid Bismuth fuel, which has several distinct advantages over the commonly used Titanium. Bismuth has one of the highest thrust/power ratios of any solid metal fuel used in VAT systems, as well as the lowest ignition voltage, allowing for easy triggering, high reliability, and operation over a wider range of burning voltages.


  • Type: Micro Vacuum Arc Thruster
  • Power: 2.5W or 5W Options
  • Min Thrust: 4.2uN (<1W)
  • Max Thrust: 13uN (2.5W), 26uN (5W)
  • Shot Lifetime: 40,000
  • Total Impulse: 0.13Ns
  • ISP: 87s
  • Orbital Movement (0.25kg 1P): 950m
  • Orbital Movement (0.5kg 2P): 475m
  • Orbital Movement (0.75kg 3P): 315m
  • Orbital Movement (1kg 1U): 240m
  • Rep Rate: 1-4Hz (2.5W), 1-8Hz (5W)
  • Size: 42x42x21mm
  • Mass: 56g
  • Fuel: Bismuth
  • Inputs: 5V, GND, x2 Logic Pulses
  • PRICE: $2500.00


AIS-VAT1-PQ Micro Vacuum Arc Thruster Gallery


AIS-VAT1-PQ Micro Vacuum Arc Thruster Qualification Videos

  • Type: Micro Vacuum Arc
  • Thrust: 13uN (2.5W), 26uN (5W)
  • ISP: 87s
  • Fuel: Solid Bismuth