Vacuum Arc Nano Thrusters for Nanosatellite Spacecraft Constellations
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Abstract"AASC, in collaboration with team member General Dynamics, Space Propulsion Systems, proposes to advance the Vacuum Arc Thruster (VAT) one step closer to flight qualification status. Phase I successfully demonstrated the low system mass and performancecharacteristics necessary to support "precision propulsion" requirements for constellation based, nano satellite missions. Phase II will benchmark the Phase I basic model design with both an in-space flight demonstration test and VAT lifetime testing. Amore optimized "engineering model grade" system will be designed, built, and delivered. It is the intent that this system would be ready to fly "as is" on a demonstration flight, with the caveat that the "new, streamlined" flight qualification proceduresfollowed in the Phase II program were both acceptable and appropriate to the mission. This attention to also developing a novel way of getting hardware in flight demonstrations early in the cycle represents a significant departure from the standard flighthardware development sequence. With the intent to identify flight design issues early on in an integrated product development fashion, this approach, while "out of the box with attendant risks, has potentially widespread payoff beyond this specific VATtechnology."
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