Liquid Micro Pulsed Plasma Thruster

 

The L-uPPT project is committed to developing and assessing the functionality of a novel PPT technology based on liquid propellant, expected to enable significant improvements over traditional solid Teflon-based PPTs in terms of propellant utilization and impulse bit predictability through a tight control of the mass of propellant injected.

Different Thruster Axis Configuration

 

Liquid propellant PPTs have several advantages over competing microspacecraft propulsion technologies, such as:

  • Large specific impulse in comparison to cold gas thrusters or resistojets. While the specific impulse of cold gas thrusters and resistojets is of the order of 50-100s and 200-400s, respectively, PPTs typically offer specific impulses > 500s. This gain in specific impulse translates into an accordingly greater delta-V for a given propellant mass, which considerably widens the scope of missions accessible to microspacecrafts.

     

  • Predictable and precise impulse bit, allowing thus simpler attitude control for nanosatellites, but also precise positioning as may be required for instance by formation flying missions.

     

  • Non-hazardous propellant. The use of non-hazardous propellant has a beneficial impact on the propulsion system safety and reliability, and contributes to reduce its development span, qualification cycle and cost. The safety of the system is of utmost importance as it may affect not only the integrity of the host spacecraft, but of the whole launch vehicle and its payloads. In many cases, the lack of hazardous materials is a strict requirement for satellite developers, as for instance in the CubeSats specification.
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