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Newsletter "SEI NEWS" 2011

Home > Company Information > SEI WORLD > Back number > Vol.405

[Newsletter "SEI NEWS" Vol.405]

CELMET to Outer Space


In May 2010, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the Small Solar Power Sail Demonstrator IKAROS from the Tanegashima Space Center. Sumitomo Electric's CELMET was incorporated in the demonstrator.

 Small Solar Power Sail Demonstrator IKAROS

The Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation Of the Sun (IKAROS) was launched aboard H-IIA rocket No. 17 together with the Venus Climate Orbiter, Akatsuki. Following the launch, IKAROS spread its huge sail in outer space and successfully cruised being propelled by sunlight as the world’s first space yacht. It also demonstrated the world’s first power generation by thin-film solar cells attached to a portion of the sail. Having successfully completed all missions scheduled for a period ending in last December, IKAROS is in its later stage of operation.

IKAROS before launch   IKAROS pictured in space by separated camera
Small Solar Power Sail Demonstrator IKAROS
IKAROS All-News Channel (project's site)
 Functions of CELMET

IKAROS is a space yacht that spins in flight. The spacecraft deploys the sail via the centrifugal force produced by spinning. It has a liquefied gas as propellant and achieves propulsion by gas jets to perform sun-oriented attitude control. If the liquid propellant moves inside the tank, it becomes difficult to maintain craft attitude. The material selected to prevent liquid motion was Sumitomo Electric’s proprietary porous metal CELMET, which features high porosity and continuous pores.

CELMET in IKAROS fuel tank

Point1.Gas-liquid separation

CELMET improves propellant efficiency by, when the propellant is blasted, retaining the liquid propellant in CELMET pores in the tank, and only releasing the vaporized portion of the propellant.

Point2.Sloshing prevention

CELMET retains liquid propellant, minimizing the sloshing (content motion caused by swinging of the liquid container) that affects the attitude of the spacecraft.

Point3.Improved thermal conductivity

To achieve continuous blasting, all the propellant must be heated by the heater. CELMET, with its high thermal conductivity, transfers heat efficiently and facilitates propellant vaporization.

Point4.Ensuring stable propulsion

A rapid drop in tank pressure during propellant blasting may cause sudden boiling of the propellant. CELMET is effective in preventing this, since its structure is similar to that of boiling chips.


- CELMET is a trademark or registered trademark of Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd.

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