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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​PPTCUP - Pulsed Plasma Thruster for CUbesat Propulsion


  Cattura.JPG




Pulsed Plasma Thrusters (PPTs) are long-standing, space-qualified electric propulsion thrusters​ of proven reliability, relatively simple and low-cost. Their compactness, robustness and scalability are increasingly appealing, as the space industry interest in small satellites grows all over the world. A Pulsed Plasma Thruster for CubeSat Propulsion PPTCUP has been developed in collaboration with Clyde Space Ltd, which is responsible for the design of the power supply and the Universit​y of Southampton.​

The PPTCUP Engineering Model (EM) succesfully completed its lifetime campaign demonstrating 2,000,000 shots (200% of the required lifetime) and no performance decay during life. 

A full flight qualification program has been recently started. The PPTCUP Qualification Model (QM) successfully passed EMC, vibration and thermo vacuum testing.

PPTCUP-QM performance are:

  • ​Mass - 280g with EMI shielding box
  • Power - 2W nominal. Can be throttled down to virtually any power
  • Impulse bit - 40uNs
  • Thrust - 40uN @2W, propotionally less if power is reduced
  • Specific Impulse - 600s
  • Total impulse - 44Ns (can be increased storing more propellant)

Thanks to its performances PPTCUP is suitable to a range of missions including drag compensation, orbit keeping, formation flying and small orbit transfer. An example of the lifetime increase that can be obtained using PPTCUP for drag compensation is reported below.

PPT orbit keeping capabilities

Altitude

Average orbit power
for d​rag compensation

CubeSat Size

Natural Life

Life with PPTCUP

Life increase

 

 

1U

5.7d

17d

+200%

250 km

2.4 W

2U

11d

22d

+100%

3U

17d

28d

+66%

 

 

1U

21.6d

58d

+170%

300 km

0.7 W

2U

1m 13d

2m 19d

+85%

3U

2m 4d

3m 11d

+56%

 

 

1U

2m 8d

5m 21d

+150%

350 km

0.26 W

2U

4m 16 d

8m

+75%

3U

6m 24d

10m 8d

+50%

 

 

1U

6m 12d

1y 3m

+140%

400 km

0.1 W

2U

1y 1m

1y 10m

+70%

3U

1y 7m

2y 4m

+46%

 

 

1U

1y 5m

3y 3m

+133%

450 km

0.04 W

2U

2y 10m

4y 8m

+67%

3U

4y 2m

6y

+44%​​

100 cm2 area, cD=2.2 NRLMSISE-00 atmosphere​

PPTCUP can also be used as a de-orbiting device in cases where the spacecraft will not be compliant with the 25 year de-orbiting ruleLowering of the orbit perigee up to 40 km on a 3U cubesat can be achieved and proportionally more on 2U and 1U Spacecrafts.

For more informations regarding PPTCUP please contact us​ or email us at michele.coletti@mars-space.co.uk