Momentus Space promises Orbital Transfer services via microwave heated water plasma drives hooked up to an autonomous navigation & power unit. Essentially they trim the orbit for payloads delivered to LEO via services like the Falcon, Falcon 9 and the Starship.
|LEO orbit raising||Main propulsion for small spacecrafts|
|LEO constellation deployment||Orbit raising from LEO, orbit inclination change|
|SSO orbit plane adjustment||Satellite deorbiting missions|
|De-orbiting||Main thruster for deep space spacecrafts|
|In-space boosters for micro-launchers|
|Wet Mass (without Payload): 80 kg||Wet Mass (without Payload): 450 kg|
|Maximum Payload Mass: 250 kg||Maximum Payload Mass: 300 kg|
|Total Impulse: >100,000 N-s||Total Impulse: >1,500,000 N-s|
|Maximum ?V: >1 km/s for 50 kg payload||Maximum ?V: >5 km/s for 100 kg payload|
|Boosting of large satellites from LEO to GEO||Water delivery from asteroids to cis-lunar space|
|Moon exploration resupply||Water bunkering|
|Deep space missions||Deployment of asteroid mining infrastructure|
|Asteroid mining infrastructure||Moon and Mars exploitation resupply|
|Payload: >10,000kg to GEO||Payload: >100,000 kg|
|?V: up to 8km/sec|
|Propulsion: water plasma-powered Fervor™||Propulsion: water plasma-powered Valor™|
|Specific impulse: 900 sec||Specific impulse: 1100 sec|
|Solar power: >10kW||Solar power: >100kW|
While I’m not 100% sure of the specific technology a similar concept is the Helicon Thruster – named for the antenna which uses radio-frequency energy to heat water to plasma temperatures, all without actually contacting the super-corrosive ultra-hot steam. Most helicon thrusters encapsulate the “reaction chamber” in a quartz tube.
Electric propulsion is inherently low thrust as the energy in the jet must be supplied by a power source. Solar panels can only be so light and are inherently huge when a long way from the sun.