Xenon Fueled, Electric Micro-Thruster
Microspacecraft, weighing 100 kg or less, with less than 100 W on-board are projected to become ubiquitous within the next decade. Fleets of such spacecraft are envisioned to fly in formation, requiring on-board propulsion that can initialize their orbit after a drop-off from shared launch vehicle, keep them in precise relative position and propel them out of formation upon fault detection, followed by insertion of a spare. These maneuvers will require high deltaV propulsion, pointing toward electric, high Isp thrusters. These include PPT¿s, FEEP¿s, colloids and Xe fueled micro-ion thrusters and micro-Hall thrusters (less than or equal to 50 W). The first three devices use non-volatile propellants and therefore have a significant potential for spacecraft contamination. The Xe fueled micro-thrusters have poor performance. We are therefore proposing an alternative, Xe fueled electric thruster, that obviates contamination issues and offers lower cost system with potentially superior performance.In Phase I we will model and test the concept in our existing facilities. Based on the results, we will design a new set of hardware to be constructed and tested in Phase II. If successful, this concept will have no difficulty competing against the above listed alternatives in all missions except for those that require micro-Newton, high resolution propulsion.
Small Business Information at Submission:
Busek Co. Inc.
11 Tech Circle Natick, MA 01760
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