press release
Published: 18 January 2024

Smart fuel tank made in Surrey heading for the International Space Station

The astronauts of the future won't need to wait for the fuel light to come on before they know their tanks are running low – thanks to a new system from UK company Atout Process Ltd that can accurately measure how full a tank is in zero gravity.

A project funded by the European Space Agency will enable Atout's Smart Tanks for Space (SMARTTS) to be tested onboard the International Space Station. 


“We’re confident that SMARTTS can report, in real-time, accurate measurements of fuel, even in space. Thanks to ESA, we’ll now get the chance to prove it in orbit through experiments on the International Space Station. It’s essential new technology for proposed new space industries and will enable measurable in-orbit refuelling.”

Andrew Hunt, Chief Executive at Atout

Car fuel gauges rely on gravity, but that doesn't work in space. Atout’s technology uses electrical capacitance tomography sensors to measure the mass of liquid in a tank, show where it is and how it is moving, and to calculate the resulting forces on the vehicle. SMARTTS solve many of the longstanding problems of measuring propellant in space vessels in zero gravity.

To build the prototype SMARTTS system, Atout will enlist the help of space engineers at Surrey Space Centre, part of the University of Surrey, and use the specialist facilities there. This is part of Surrey's UKSA-funded SpaceCraft programme. 


Atout will build the prototype SMARTTS system in 2024 and the European Space Agency plans to launch it in 2025.

Smart Tanks For Space


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