Micro-Propulsion System of a Thermospheric Explorer Cubesat


Udrea, B, Huang, A, Cosgrove, R, Doe, R, & Malsbury, J. “Micro-Propulsion System of a Thermospheric Explorer CubeSat.” Proceedings of the ASME 2009 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition. Volume 12: Micro and Nano Systems, Parts A and B. Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA. November 13–19, 2009. pp. 905-909. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/IMECE2009-11233


The major design driver for the Dipping Thermospheric Explorer (DipTE) CubeSat mission is that the satellite shall fly a significant amount of orbit arcs at altitudes of 300km and below. It is assumed that the DipTE satellite will be released in a circular orbit above the altitudes of scientific interest for the mission. A propulsion system will be employed to make the orbit elliptic and satisfy the design driver. The apogee of the elliptic orbit will be at the altitude of the initial circular orbit. The inclination of the orbit will stay the same. A few design iterations of the mission converged to a satellite configuration capable of storing 0.375 kg of propellant, and a propulsion system with a specific impulse Isp of 86 s. About 90 % of the total impulse of 313 Ns stored on board was budgeted to perform orbital maneuvers, with a 1 N thruster orbital maneuvering thruster (OMT). The remainder of 10% of the propellant mass has been budgeted for attitude control maneuvers, such as those performed during detumbling and initial attitude acquisition. The attitude control maneuvers are performed with the thrusters of a reaction control system (RCS). The 12 two-dimensional (2D) microthrusters of the RCS produce 40 mN each and are installed such that they provide three-axis control of the spacecraft. This paper describes the preliminary design of the propulsions system.

Volume Subject Area: Micro and Nano Systems

Topics: Control systems, Design, Impulse (Physics), Manganese (Metal), Orbits (Astrophysics), Propellants, Propulsion, Propulsion systems, Satellites, Space vehicles

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