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Micropropulsion Development at the ARC Seibersdorf Research

[+] Author Affiliations
Carsten Arthur Scharlemann, Martin Tajmar

ARC Seibersdorf Research GmbH, Seibersdorf, Austria

Paper No. CANEUS2006-11006, pp. 73-80; 8 pages
  • CANEUS 2006: MNT for Aerospace Applications
  • CANEUS2006: MNT for Aerospace Applications
  • Toulouse, France, August 27–September 1, 2006
  • Conference Sponsors: Nanotechnology Institute
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4254-1 | eISBN: 0-7918-3787-4
  • Copyright © 2006 by ASME


The increasing application of micro-satellites (from 10 kg up to 100 kg) for a rising number of various missions demands the development of new miniaturized propulsion systems. Micro-satellites have special requirements for the propulsion system such as small mass, reduced volume, and very stringent electrical power constraints. Existing propulsion systems often can not satisfy these requirements. The Space Propulsion Department of the ARC Seibersdorf research dedicated itself to the development and test of various micropropulsion systems for present and future space missions. The portfolio of the systems under development includes electrical and chemical propulsion systems. The covered thrust and specific impulse of the developed propulsion systems ranges from 1μN to 1N and 500 s to 8000 s respectively. Based on the large experience obtained over several decades in the development of Field Emission Electric Propulsion systems (FEEP), several microstructured FEEPs have been developed. The design of these systems is presented as well as preliminary test results and a summarization of the experience obtained during the process of miniaturizing such systems. The development of miniaturized chemical propulsion systems includes a bipropellant and a monopropellant thruster. The bipropellant thruster constitutes the smallest existing 1N thruster utilizing hydrogen peroxide. The thruster system consists of two micopumps for the propellant feed and a microturbine to generate the power for operating the pumps. The monopropellant thruster is a derivative of the bipropellant thruster. It offers a lower specific impulse than the bipropellant system but due to its reduced system complexity it represents also a promising candidate for several future space missions. Both systems utilize rocket grade hydrogen peroxide (green propellant), which is decomposed with the help of an advanced monolithic catalyst. The present paper discusses the design methods and the physical limitations of such chemical propulsion systems with regard to their miniaturization and summarizes their performance evaluation.

Copyright © 2006 by ASME



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