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​​Micro-PPT for NanoSats (NanoSat PPT)

One current trend in space technology is towards miniaturisation of spacecraft, from mini to micro, pushing towards nanosats. In this frame, mission types that could benefit from the miniaturisation of satellites and the use of a micro-thruster module have been investigated, and Pulsed Plasma Thrusters, is the technology which can best meet the full range of their requirements or at least best meet them over the widest range.

A modular Micro-PPT thruster system has been developed to be integrated and customized to accommodate different nano-satellites mission requirements. A study case scenario has been selected and used to demonstrate the potential application that the Micro-PPT module could provide to a nanosatellite.

The goal of the activity is to develop a 6 Micro-PPT propulsion system to perform station keeping and attitude control manoeuvres (ΔV=40m/s, Total Impulse=800Ns). The system was built and tested in collaboration with Clyde Space and the University of Southampton.

A breech-fed geometry has been selected in order to reduce accommodation issues without compromising cost savings associated to modularity, integration capability and short development/manufacturing schedule.

The breadboard model of the Micro-PPT has been successfully developed and tested, with the following performance:

  • Mass - 350g
  • Power - 5W nominal. Can be throttled down to virtually any power
  • Impulse bit - 90uNs
  • Thrust - 90uN @5W, propotionally less if power is reduced
  • Specific Impulse - 640s
  • Total impulse - 190Ns (can be increased storing more propellant)

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