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Vacuum Arc Nano Thrusters for Nanosatellite Spacecraft Constellations

Award Information

Department of Defense
Air Force
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2001 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Alameda Applied Sciences Corporation
3077 Teagarden Street San Leandro, CA 94577-5720
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 1
Fiscal Year: 2001
Title: Vacuum Arc Nano Thrusters for Nanosatellite Spacecraft Constellations
Agency / Branch: DOD / USAF
Contract: F29601-01-C-0133
Award Amount: $98,095.00


Alameda Applied Sciences Corporation proposes to develop a new type of nano-thruster electric engine for highly parallel, distributed constellations of nano-satellites and other space propulsion applications. A key feature of the proposed Phase-I is theuse of an Inductive Energy Store (IES) driver to power the vacuum arc nano-thruster, which has a mass of <60 g while operating at >90% PPU efficiency from 1-10 W. The province of missions for such a thruster includes attitude control of satelliteconstellations of Class I microspacecraft (~10 kg, ~10 W). This thruster requires <100 V to operate, vs. the ~2 kV for the PPT. The thruster might be scaled to >=100 W, to provide both attitude control and slew maneuvers with the same engine. In Phase I,AASC will fabricate a prototype thruster with a 1-10 W inductive PPU, using NASA and/or Air Force space qualified components where possible. We will measure plasma streaming velocity and mass utilization rates for many elements or alloys. We will conductdirect thrust and efficiency measurements at Edwards AFB. In Phase II, we will develop a flight qualified engineering model by addressing other key issues such as the lifetime of the thruster, environmental factors and mission requirements.The primaryapplication of the specific thruster to be developed in the proposed work will be for Class I micro-spacecraft, ~10 kg. However, beyond this immediate application, the thruster could find use for larger or smaller spacecraft, with further development.

Principal Investigator:

Niansheng Qi
Principal Scientist

Business Contact:

Mahadevan Krishnan
Small Business Information at Submission:

2235 Polvorosa Ave, Suite 230 San Leandro, CA 94577

EIN/Tax ID: 943201700
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No