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AFWERX Awards Accion Systems $2.25 Million Phase II SBIR Contract

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
August 11, 2020
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Air Force Award Will Drive Advanced Development and Commercialization of Multi-Mode In-Space Propulsion System.

BOSTON, Mass., August 11, 2020 (Accion Systems PR — In-space propulsion pioneer Accion Systems announced today that it has been awarded a follow-on Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract through AFWERX, in partnership with Air Force Research Lab (AFRL), and the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN). The award recognizes the successful completion of the Phase I SBIR contact earlier this year and exciting promise for Accion’s TILE ion electrospray propulsion for use in national security missions. 

“We are thrilled that our contract with AFRL continues to expand beyond the initial scope of our partnership,” said Dr. Natalya Bailey, CTO of Accion Systems. “This Phase II contract accelerates our path towards commercialization, bringing the concept of powerful, efficient and less expensive space exploration to reality.”

AFRL and AFWERX have partnered to streamline the Small Business Innovation Research process in an attempt to speed up the experience, broaden the pool of potential applicants and decrease bureaucratic overhead. Beginning in SBIR 18.2, and now in 20.R, the Air Force has begun offering ‘Special’ SBIR topics that are faster, leaner, and open to a broader range of innovations.

“AFRL is excited to participate with Accion in the AFWERX program to explore the speed at which Accion can deliver technology solutions to the Air Force,” says Capt. Karson Roberts, Program Manager at AFRL’s In-Space Propulsion Branch. “This technology will be greatly beneficial in enhancing on-orbit capabilities for the DoD.”

Accion Systems has developed a unique in-space propulsion system, based on a postage stamp-sized thruster chip, that is scalable from nanosatellites to larger satellites. These engines help satellites perform mission-critical orbital maneuvers. Unlike other ion engines, Accion’s thrust-producing ions are supplied from ionic liquid propellant — a safe, non-toxic liquid salt. This novel source of ions allows Accion to avoid the use of large ionization chambers, pressurized tanks, bulky valves, and external cathodes, significantly reducing its propulsion systems’ size without sacrificing performance, power or reliability.

About Accion Systems

Accion Systems develops advanced satellite propulsion systems for the space industry. Accion’s in-space propulsion technologies optimize scalability, performance, and efficiency. Accion’s flagship product, TILE, uses proprietary ion electrospray thrusters, bringing electric propulsion to satellites of all sizes and redefining in-space capabilities. Accion Systems was founded in 2014 and is based in Boston, MA. For more information, please visit or follow the company on Twitter @AccionSystems.


Established in 2017 by the Secretary of the Air Force, AFWERX is a catalyst for agile Air Force engagement across industry, academia, and non-traditional contributors to create transformative opportunities and foster an Air Force culture of innovation. AFWERX solves problems and enhances the effectiveness of the Air Force by enabling thoughtful, deliberate, ground-up innovation across the Air Force.

About Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)

AFRL leads the discovery, development, and delivery of warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace forces. We’re pushing the boundaries and creating a new tomorrow through unparalleled research. Learn more: