Temperature Is Our Business

Heaters - Expanding our horizons in Ion Thrusters



Ion thrusters are used in a variety of applications, from keeping satellites in their correct position to propelling spacecraft throughout our solar system. For each thrust that one of these thrusters creates it uses a relatively low rate of propellant consumption, so they require significantly less propellant than what would be needed with chemical propulsion. In some cases where insufficient chemical fuel cannot be carried on the spacecraft Ion propulsion is the only solution to complete the desired mission.

According to NASA Ion Thrusters are now being used in over 100 of their Earth orbit communication satellites to keep them in their desired locations, and three NSTAR ion thrusters are enabling the Dawn spacecraft (launched in 2007) to travel deep into our solar system. And technology is being developed now that could one day see Ion Thrusters propelling humans to Mars.

How do Ion Thrusters Work?

Ion Thrusters work by ionizing a fuel by adding or removing electrons to produce ions. Most thrusters ionize the propellant by electron bombardment – a high energy electron (negative charge) collides with a propellant atom (neutral charge), releasing electrons from the propellant atom and resulting in a positively charged ion.

The thrust comes from an ion stream at very high velocities. This is called Plasma. Plasma has some of the properties of gas but is affected by electric and magnetic fields. A typical plasma thruster will have a heater to generate the heat needed to allow the plasma to start flowing in the Ion Thrusters. The plasma carries a current between the ionizing anode and a cathode. The current in turn generates a magnetic field at right angles to the electric field, and thereby accelerates the positive ions out of the engine to create the required thrust.

Heater solutions

At the heart of an Ion Thruster is the chamber that holds the cathodes. The cathodes are a part of the plasma generating system which give these thrusters their long life. Attached to the cathodes you will have heaters which will generate the required heat to allow the plasma to start flowing within the Ion thruster.

As mentioned earlier Ion Thrusters can have a very long lifetime so all elements involved in their construction are of course expected to meet the same lifetime of use. At Okazaki along with our colleagues at ARi, we have developed heater cable which is durable and offers a long lifetime suitable to be used in Ion thrusters.  

Development of our heating solutions required researching the latest materials and technologies to produce some of the highest quality heaters possible which can reach the high temperatures required to ignite the plasma within Ion thrusters, yet still provide the long-life reliability needed for deep space applications. We have achieved this by using refractory metals that allow us to reach temperatures that base metals are unable to attain.

The Future

Ion Thruster technology is evolving all the time as our horizons broaden deeper and deeper into space so at Okazaki our engineers continue to develop heater cable solutions to meet these ever-expanding demands.

The future is very exciting.

For more information our ‘Heaters for Ion Thrusters’ Datasheet can be found here. Alternatively contact sales@okazaki-mfg.co.uk if you’d like to discuss our heaters and other products.


All Set Up for our week at the Paris Airshow

We are all set up and ready for our week at Paris Airshow to promote our products designed for use in Aerospace Applications

We are here all week in Hall 6, Stand A65. If you are around pop over for a chat.

Out of this World Sensors and Heaters

Mars Rover

Out of this World Sensors and Heaters

When it comes to some of the most challenging environments known and even unknown to man, there can be few locations that are as challenging as the moon.  So, when Okazaki was challenged with delivering heaters and sensors for the NASA Mars Curiosity Rover, this certainly presented a worthy proposition.

At Okazaki, we’ve always understood that our valued clients across the globe require extreme levels of product reliability.  We know that time is money, and any impact on production or service can result in serious implications both financially and regarding safety.  We also know that our clients appreciate that world-class quality is our benchmark.

For the purpose of the NASA Mars Curiosity Rover, NASA opted to use Micropak heaters in order to heat the sampling tubes inside the vehicle.  The challenge here was to benefit from greater flexibility when space is particularly paramount. With a small bend radius as a ratio to the outside diameter of heater, the units proved flexible thanks to their ability to be coiled and freely formed into complex and desired shapes.

As part of their investigations, demands on working in an extreme temperature range were certainly met thanks to the operating range of -200 to 500°C which can be achieved by the Micropak heaters.

A further benefit to the project was that the Micropak heater has the same diameter hot and cold sections.  Also, it has no external join which reduces the risk of mechanical joint failure while at the same time as being suitable for being installed in vacuum sealing flanges.

At Okazaki, our engineers and developers are constantly looking to use the latest technical advances to improve the efficiency and safety of our products.  For more info on how our heating and temperature sensors can be used in extreme working environments, please contact Leona Lilford


Helping The Aerospace Industry Soar

Aeroplane Engine

Helping The Aerospace Industry Soar

At the moment we are busy preparing to exhibit at this years Paris Air Show, and as awlays we expect it to be a busy event and we would love to welcome you to our stand if you are attending. As with last years Air Show in Farnborough we are expecting to receive lots of interest in our products such as our Cryogenic Assemblies, Thermocouples and Resistance Thermometers, and our expert team from Europe and Japan will be on site to discuss our products and how they can benefit your business.

Whether you are attending the show or not I thought I would take a break from filling in forms for the show, checking artwork for our display graphics and filling in safety assessments to give you an idea as to what Okazaki can offer the Aerospace Industry.

So, what makes Okazaki Manufacturing Company such a good partner for companies in the Aerospace industry? We have been an active supplier to the aerospace industry for more than 50 years, and our constant drive to develop new and innovative products along with our ongoing investment into the latest cutting-edge technologies means our clients can be assured that we continue to provide the next generation of temperature sensors and heaters.

Our products have been proven to give accurate and consistent results in the most demanding environments across a range of industries such as Petrochemical, Automotive and of course Aerospace to name a few. We also design our products to be as long lasting as possible to help reduce costs and downtime.

Specifically, for the aerospace industry we have designed products for many applications. Here are a few examples:

  • Heat flux sensors
  • Artificial Satellite which includes surface and probe type sensors
  • Temperature sensors/liquid-gas sensor assembly for LH₂, LOX Tank
  • Sensors for first stage engine
  • Heaters for Ion thrusters
  • Sensor to detect the ignition of a thrust engine

Okazaki were amongst the pioneering companies to first develop and manufacture mineral insulated cable to improve product performance and reliability.

Over the decades we have refined and improved that technology, as it remains at the heart of our products to this day, such as:

  • Mineral Insulated Electric Heaters
  • Temperature Sensors – including cryogenic assemblies, thermocouple assemblies and resistance thermometers.
  • Mineral Insulated Cables – Semi-rigid RF coax and multi-conductor transmission and microwave cables


Mineral Insulated Electric Heaters

We use in house manufactured mineral insulated cables to construct our extensive range of electric heating systems for use in the Aerospace industry. And due to our manufacturing process, the sheath can be supplied to a bend radius of 2.5 times the heater OD, meaning we can form our heaters into any desired shape which goes some way to easing the installation. The heater is also high pressure sealed for welding when required into process flanges.


Temperature Sensors

At Okazaki we produce a range of Temperature Sensors for the Aerospace Industry, and we know that our sensors need to be reliable and precise to give our clients accurate and consistent results.

All our products need to be used in extreme conditions whether that be in the Aerospace industry or one of the many other industries we are involved in, so we ensure that our sensors meet our own high standards. And you don’t need to take our word for it as our sensors have also achieved Nadcap Accreditation and are also AMS 2750 compliant.

Some of our sensors include:

  • Cryogenic Assemblies
  • Thermocouple Assemblies
  • Resistance Thermometers
  • Moulded Sleeve Sheathed Thermocouple
  • Hoskins 2300® Sensors


Mineral Insulated Cable

Our Mineral Insulated Cables are at the core of many of our products and are manufactured in our factories in Japan. They can be tailored for a multitude of applications across the Aerospace Industry and can be relied upon to provide accurate results in the harshest of environments – they can operate over a temperature range of 1.5k to 2600°C.

One example of how our MI Cable can be used is our Hoskins 2300®. The Hoskins 2300® is used to measure the turbine blade path temperature in a jet engine which allows the engine to run hotter and quieter, thereby improving environmental performance and noise pollution.

I hope this article has given some insight onto how Okazaki can be of benefit to our clients in the Aerospace industry and if you would like to learn more you can contact our representative Leona Lilford at leona.lilford@okazaki-mfg.co.uk .

Our New Aerospace Brochure

Our Aerospace Brochure

We are exhibiting this week at The Farnborough Air Show to illustrate how our products can provide accurate and consistent results in this very demanding industry.

In the build up to the event we had an Aerospace Brochure produced along with a series of product specific Datasheets which we will hand out to visitors to our stand this week. However, if you are unable to attend here is a PDF of the brochure.

View the Aerospace Brochure


Contact Us

Whatever your question, whatever your project, drop us a line and we'll get back to you asap.

Contact Details

t: +44 (0)2920 814 333
e: sales@okazaki-mfg.co.uk

Manufacturing Company
UK Limited

S4C Media Centre,
Parc Ty Glas,
CF14 5DU
United Kingdom