MEMS Propulsion Technology Utilizing Decomposing Nitrous Oxide Propellant
A low cost, high performance propulsion system does not exist that can support small and micro-satellite requirements, that is not burdened with severe hazard and toxicity issues. The VACCO Micro Propulsion System (MPS) represents a leap forward in the application of ChEMS? (metal MEMS) propulsion technology for nanosat and picosat missions, however its capability is limited by reliance on low-Isp, low-density butane propellant. AeroAstro proposes to more than triple the performance of MPS by upgrading it to incorporate decomposing nitrous oxide (N2O) technology. This increase in total impulse of MPS from 33 N-s to over 100 N-s is made possible by a combination of factors including, the liquid density of N2O being approximately double that of butane, allowing twice as much propellant to be stored within the MPS volume, and the exothermal decomposition of N2O produces a hot gas with an Isp that is over two times that of cold butane. By applying AeroAstro?s nitrous oxide technology to VACCO?s MPS, it is possible to triple its performance (200% increase in delivered ?V/unit mass) providing an enabling technology for nano-spacecraft by allowing them to perform orbit modification and formation flying that is far beyond the current norm.
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