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Ultra-Compact Advanced Micro Pulsed Plasma Thruster for CubeSats

Award Information

Department of Defense
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2010 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Army 10-031
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Busek Co. Inc.
11 Tech Circle Natick, MA 01760-1023
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 1
Fiscal Year: 2010
Title: Ultra-Compact Advanced Micro Pulsed Plasma Thruster for CubeSats
Agency / Branch: DOD / ARMY
Contract: W9113M-10-C-0045
Award Amount: $69,963.00


Busek Co. Inc. proposes to develop a compact fully integrated primary and ACS propulsion system for CubeSats. The propulsion system will fit into 1/2U and will deliver 100m/s deltaV to a 3U CubeSat. It is based on the on-orbit proven microPPT architecture, which is an electromagnetic thruster that has no moving parts and delivers thrust by accelerating Teflon vapor plasma by Lorentz force. The Teflon is stored as a solid; there are no propellant tanks or valves in the system. Thrust is directly proportional to input power and Isp typically exceeds 800s. The proposed system is a third generation microPPT built by Busek, with each generation having higher wet mass fraction achieved primarily through reduction in the mass and volume of the power processing/ electronics unit (PPU). The dramatic reduction in the PPU mass of the proposed configuration is possible due to a novel and imaginative circuit topology and newly available high voltage semiconductor switches. The Phase 1 goal is a demonstration of the novel PPU architecture and optimization of the stored energy per ablation surface area yielding thruster geometry most suitable for CubeSat applications. The Phase1 Option will include a demonstration of the integrated breadboard system. A TRL-6 flight prototype of the system will be built and delivered in Phase 2.

Principal Investigator:

Jurg Zwahlen
Senior Engineer

Business Contact:

Judy Budny
Senior Engineer
Small Business Information at Submission:

Busek Co. Inc.
11 Tech Circle Natick, MA 01760

EIN/Tax ID: 042881247
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No