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Modular Pulsed Plasma Electric Propulsion System for CubesatsCurrent capabilities of CubeSats must be improved in order to perform more ambitious missions. Electric propulsion systems will play a key role due to their large specific impulse. Compared to other propulsion alternatives, their simplicity allows an easier miniaturization and manufacturing of autonomous modules into the nano and pico-satellite platform. Pulsed Plasma Thrusters (PPTs) appear as one of the most promising technologies for the near term. The utilization of solid and non-volatile propellants, their low power requirements and their proven reliability in the large scale make them great candidates for rapid implementation. The main challenges are the integration and miniaturization of all the electronic circuitry into a printed circuit board (PCB) that can satisfy the strict requirements that CubeSats present. NASA Ames and the George Washington University have demonstrated functionality and control of three discrete Micro-Cathode Arc Thrusters (CAT) using a bench top configuration that was compatible with the ARC PhoneSat Bus. This demonstration was successfully conducted in a vaccum chamber at the ARC Environmental Test Laboratory. A new effort will integrate a low power Plasma Processing Unit and two plasma thrusters onto a single printed circuit board that will utilize less than 13 U of Bus volume. The target design will be optimized for the accommodation into the PhoneSatEDISON Demonstration of SmallSatellite Networks (EDSN) bus as it uses the same software interface application, which was demonstrated in the previous task. This paper describes the design, integration and architecture of the proposed propulsion subsystem for a planned Technology Demonstration Mission. In addition, a general review of the Pulsed Plasma technology available for CubeSats is presented in order to assess the necessary challenges to overcome further development.
Document ID
Document Type
Perez, Andres Dono
(Universities Space Research Association Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Gazulla, Oriol Tintore
(Millennium Engineering and Integration Co. Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Teel, George Lewis
(George Washington Univ. Washington, DC, United States)
Mai, Nghia
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA United States)
Lukas, Joseph
(George Washington Univ. Washington, DC, United States)
Haque, Sumadra
(George Washington Univ. Washington, DC, United States)
Uribe, Eddie
(Millennium Engineering and Integration Co. Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Keidar, Michael
(George Washington Univ. Washington, DC, United States)
Agasid, Elwood
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA United States)
Date Acquired
December 30, 2014
Publication Date
August 2, 2014
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion And Power
Spacecraft Design, Testing And Performance
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: AIAA/USU Small Satellite Conference
Location: Logan, UT
Country: United States
Start Date: August 2, 2014
End Date: August 7, 2014
Sponsors: American Inst. of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Utah State Univ.
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
Solid Works
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