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Aerospace 2018, 5(4), 119; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace5040119

A Single-Use Microthruster Concept for Small Satellite Attitude Control in Formation-Flying Applications

1
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405, USA
2
Benchmark Space Systems Inc., South Burlington, VT 05403, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 5 June 2018 / Revised: 29 October 2018 / Accepted: 5 November 2018 / Published: 14 November 2018
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Abstract

In recent years, the maturation of small satellite technology has led to their adoption for a variety of space missions. The next generation of small satellite missions, however, will likely have the satellites operating in formations or “constellations” to perform missions that are not currently possible. A key enabling technology for constellation-based missions is a miniaturized propulsion system that is capable of delivering the extremely low impulse levels required for maintaining precise relative position and orientation. Existing propulsion solutions for this regime suffer from compromises on power, safety, and cost that have limited their adoption. In this work, we describe a new, low-power micropropulsion concept based on the thermal decomposition of an inert chemical blowing agent (CBA) as the propellant. A meso-scale prototype device is designed, fabricated, and tested. The experimental results indicate that this concept, when appropriately scaled, is capable of providing thrust levels (∼1 μ N) and impulse-bits (∼0.1 μ N·s) that are commensurate with the intended application. View Full-Text
Keywords: micropropulsion; microthruster; small satellites; attitude control system; foaming agent micropropulsion; microthruster; small satellites; attitude control system; foaming agent
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Romero-Diez, S.; Hantsche, L.; Pearl, J.M.; Hitt, D.L.; McDevitt, M.R.; Lee, P.C. A Single-Use Microthruster Concept for Small Satellite Attitude Control in Formation-Flying Applications. Aerospace 2018, 5, 119.

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