PPTCUP - Pulsed Plasma Thruster for CUbesat Propulsion
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 University 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
Average orbit power
for drag compensation
Life with PPTCUP
4m 16 d
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 rule. Lowering 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 email@example.com.