Micropropulsion for Nanosatellites

Olivia Billett - AA 236A 2006

Mission Statement
Why do we need thrusters for CubeSats?
Attitude Control Camera Pointing Formation Flying Rendezvous Vehicle Inspection Orbit Changes De-Orbit Capability Research and Development Because they’re cool

CubeSat Constraints What’s so hard about adding thrusters? Size: < 10 x 10 x 10 cm Weight: < 1 kg Power: < 1 Watt Minimum Ibit ~ 10-4 Ns Flight ready ? Affordable ? .

MTU. As of 2006: • 1 CubeSat (UIUC ION). AFRL • SSTL. pending launch • Few nanosats (UW. Northrop Grumman. JPL . U Toronto) but no launches scheduled In industry satellites: Increasing interest from DARPA.Previous Missions What kinds of micropropulsion are currently in use? In student satellites: Not much.

(Viable) Types of Micropropulsion Electric Propulsion Pulsed Plasma Thruster (PPT) Vacuum Arc Thruster (VAT) Micro Resistojet Colloid Microthrusters Chemical Propulsion Monopropellant MEMs Bipropellant MEMs Solid Propellant MEMs Cold gas thrusters (micro & MEMs) . more? . . .

Evaluation Criteria Primary Propulsion vs Attitude Control? Thrust < 1 N vs Ibit ~ 0. including all fuel 1 W (average power) 10 x 10 x 10 cm cheap! .1 mNs CubeSat constraints: 1 kg.

(Viable) Types of Micropropulsion Electric Propulsion Pulsed Plasma Thruster (PPT) Vacuum Arc Thruster (VAT) Micro Resistojet Colloid Microthrusters Chemical Propulsion Monopropellant MEMs Bipropellant MEMs Solid Propellant MEMs Cold gas thrusters (micro & MEMs) .

the PPT man Andy Sadhwani 2006 Thrusters Team Leader .

03 A 5V Voltage Stepper 1500 V 1000 A for 10 ns Capacitor Pros Teflon Coax Cons Low Thrust EM Interference Much R&D Left Specs Thrust: 0.000 pulses ) Input: 5 V at 30 mA Output: 1500 V at 1000 A for 10 ns at 6 pps High ISP Small Low Power .500 pulses) Lifetime: Forty 90° rotations (200.Pulsed Plasma Microthruster 0.006 mN Rotate 90º: 12 min (4.

Vacuum Arc Thrusters (VAT) Different cathodes vary impulse Variable pulsing (width & freq) Lighter PPU than PPT MVAT – increased thrust? High EMI Not tested Hard to fit 3 in CubeSat Alameda Applied Sciences Alameda Applied Sciences ••Power = 4 W Power = 4 W ••Mass = 150 g Mass = 150 g ••Thrust = 54 uN (90° in 10 min) Thrust = 54 uN (90° in 10 min) ••II = 1 uNs bit = 1 uNs bit ••Size = 4 xx4 xx4 cm Size = 4 4 4 cm MTU HuskySat micro-Vacuum Arc Thruster .

3 mN ••Size = 10 cm long Size = 10 cm long UK-DMC Micro-Resistojet. 2003 .Micro Resistojet Simple system Fuel: water.3 mN Thrust = 3. nitrous oxide Larger versions used for years Low impulse Test failed – propellant leak? Research discontinued (water) Weight of propellant SSTL [Water] SSTL [Water] ••Power = 3 W Power = 3 W ••Dry Mass = 13 g Dry Mass = 13 g ••Thrust = 3.

MEMs Resistojet Entire system on silicon chip Easy to fit 3 axis system Research at: Aerospace Corp.5 mm .5 xx2.4 W Power = 1 – 2.4 W ••Thrust = 5 --120 uN Thrust = 5 120 uN ••Size = 2.5 2. Indian Institute of Technology Still in research stage Thrust not well characterized IIT IIT ••Power = 1 – 2. Tshingua U.5 mm Size = 2.

Colloid Microthrusters High current droplets and ions. low ISP Tiny arrays of multiple needles with micromachining Need external neutralizer Operating voltage ~ 15 kV Far from flight-ready – still in research stage. high ISP Low current droplets only. unreliable Busek Busek ••Power = 2 W Power = 2 W ••Mass = 80 g Mass = 80 g ••Thrust = 1 mN Thrust = 1 mN .

(Viable) Types of Micropropulsion Electric Propulsion Pulsed Plasma Thruster (PPT) Vacuum Arc Thruster (VAT) Micro Resistojet Colloid Microthrusters Chemical Propulsion Monopropellant MEMs Bipropellant MEMs Solid Propellant MEMs Cold gas thrusters (micro & MEMs) .

go.17 mNs bit = . high Isp Wide range of impulse and thrust levels Hyrazine (high Isp) and hydrogen peroxide (noncorrosive.jp Picture courtesy of Micro Aerospace Solutions website .000 firings Lifetime = 50.000 firings ••Flight-ready Flight-ready Picture courtesy of Nasda. easy handling) Essentially size of 1U High Ibit Micro Aerospace Solutions Micro Aerospace Solutions ••Wet mass = 175 g Wet mass = 175 g ••II = .Monopropellant MEMs High propellant density Low power.17 mNs bit ••Thrust = 50 mN Thrust = 50 mN ••Size = 2” diameter tank Size = 2” diameter tank ••4 thrusters 4 thrusters ••Lifetime = 50.

harder to fabricate .Bipropellant MEMs Very high thrust-to-weight ratio High propellant densities Low power Research at Stanford (Mech Eng) Ibit too high for attitude control. Good for primary propulsion only Still in research stage More complex system.

feed systems.Solid Propellant MEMs High propellant densities Low power No moving parts. leakage Tiny arrays of multiple nozzles allow for range of thrust One-time-only firing Too expensive! Picture courtesy of Northrop Grumman Picture courtesy of LAAS. France . pumps.

Cold Gas Thrusters Reliable. simple systems with long flight history Benign propellants High Ibit Continuous & pulsed operations Propellant volume Very low power COTS valves available Leakage Marotta Marotta ••Dry mass = 50 g Dry mass = 50 g ••II = 44 mNs bit = 44 mNs bit ••Thrust = 445 mN Thrust = 445 mN ••Power = 0.4 W Power = 0.4 W ••Flight-ready Flight-ready Flight history on microsatellites: NASA ST missions Picture courtesy of Marotta .

55 mNs bit = .5 10 10 cm ••5 thrusters 5 thrusters 3-axis control 3-axis control ••Designed for CubeSats Designed for CubeSats .55 mNs bit ••Thrust = 55 mN Thrust = 55 mN ••Size = 2.Cold Gas MEMs – VACCO MiPS Chemically etched valves and system Fits all constraints Butane propellant – easy handling Designed for CubeSats Expandable propellant tank Picture courtesy of VACCO Industries Not ready/ not for sale? VACCO VACCO ••Wet mass = 456 g Wet mass = 456 g ••II = .5 xx10 xx10 cm Size = 2.

5 deg/s rotation rate • 90 degree turn in 60 seconds Liquid valve 120 psi Fuel storage tank 10-15 psi Plenum Thruster valve .VACCO Piezoelectric Thrusters 2 identical 1” valves controlling flow of iso-butane Low power • To open valve: 200 mW for 20 ms • No power required to keep valve open 10 mN thrust • 220 ms pulse 1.

Isobutane Self-pressurization PV=nRT P T .

Problem… Only 2 thrusters donated by VACCO/JPL . . can spin up but can never spin down . .

Solution: 2-Thruster Design • Centrifugal effect separates different phases of butane • Allows complete single-axis control Perforated baffle plate Liquid Gas Inlet tube .

Tank Location in 2U Assembly Moment of Inertia Single Axis Rotation Temperature Protection .

7cm3 Pressure ~ 44 psi @20oC .79 31.93 Maneuvers 7690 3845 2563 Full Volume = 62.40 20.Tank Sizing and Characteristics Volume (cm3) 62.

(Viable) Types of Micropropulsion Electric Propulsion Pulsed Plasma Thruster (PPT) Vacuum Arc Thruster Chemical Propulsion (VAT) Micro Resistojet Cold gas thrusters (micro & MEMs) Colloid Microthrusters Chemical Propulsion Monopropellant MEMs Bipropellant MEMs Solid Propellant MEMs Cold gas thrusters (micro & MEMs) .

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