High-Performance Warm-Gas Thrusters for Micro/Nanosatellites

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: NNC04CA84C
Agency Tracking Number: 035467
Amount: $70,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2004
Solicitation Year: 2003
Solicitation Topic Code: S1.04
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
12173 Montague St, Pacoima, CA, 91331-2210
DUNS: 052405867
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Arthur Fortini
 Principal Investigator
 (818) 899-0236
Business Contact
 Craig Ward
Title: Engineering Administrative Mgr
Phone: (818) 899-0236
Email: craig.ward@ultramet.com
Research Institution
The current push to develop small satellites, referred to as microsatellites (<100 kg) and nanosatellites (<10 kg), has resulted in the need to miniaturize several key technologies, including the propulsion system. Trade studies have been performed for these small satellites, and optimization of the propulsion system with respect to mass shows that cold-gas systems will result in the lowest overall system mass despite their low specific impulse. One way to improve the overall performance of a cold-gas propulsion system without suffering a weight penalty is to use Tridyney instead of helium or nitrogen cold gas. Tridyne, a non-explosive mixture of nitrogen (or helium), hydrogen, and oxygen, offers a 20-28% increase in specific impulse over nitrogen. The limitation of Tridyne for small satellites is that the particle size of commonly used granular catalysts is unsuitably large for use in a micronewton thruster. Coarse particles will result in propellant channeling with little reaction taking place, and a loss of performance. In this project, Ultramet proposes to build upon its experience with monolithic catalyst beds and develop a small, low pressure drop, monolithic catalyst bed optimized for use with Tridyne.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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