Pulsar recently began developing in-space electric propulsion systems to capitalize on the growing demand for the tech. The U of M partnership will allow the company to further develop the capability.
Electric propulsion Hall-effect thrusters are commonly used to power spacecraft in orbit. The propulsion system uses electricity to ionize and accelerate a propellant (xenon or krypton) to produce thrust.
Electric propulsion is much more efficient than combustion engines, achieving a specific impulse (Isp) of 2,000+ seconds. For comparison, SpaceX's Raptor engine has <400 seconds of Isp. The tradeoff with electric propulsion is that it packs far less of a punch when it comes to thrust. Pulsar Fusion is working on Hall-effects thrusters, nuclear electric propulsion and developing its direct drive fusion propulsion. Youtuber, the Angry Astronaut, visited Pulsar Fusion facilities and reported on their work.
Larger Goals and Overall Business
Pulsar Fusion is trying to create a nuclear fusion rocket able to move astronauts at 500,000 mph which is twenty times faster than the 24,791 mph speed of fastest a crewed rocket has ever flown. The company has raised over $133 million in funding across 19 funding rounds with 65 investors.