Highlights of Nanosatellite Propulsion Development Program at NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center

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CONFERENCE: AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites

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Rhee, M.S.; Zakrzwski, C.M.; Thomas, M.A.
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Currently the GN&C’s Propulsion Branch of the NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) is conducting a broad technology development program for propulsion devices that are ideally suited for nanosatellite missions. The goal of our program is to develop nanosatellite propulsion systems that can be flight qualified in a few years and flown in support of nanosatellite missions. The miniature cold gas thruster technology, the first product from the GSFC’s propulsion component technology development program, will be flown on the upcoming ST-5 mission in 2003. The ST-5 mission is designed to validate various nanosatellite technologies in all major subsystem areas. It is a precursor mission to more ambitious nanosatellite missions such as the Magnetospheric Constellation mission. By teaming with the industry and government partners, the GSFC propulsion component technology development program is aimed at pursuing a multitude of nanosatellite propulsion options simultaneously, ranging from miniaturized thrusters based on traditional chemical engines to MEMS based thruster systems. After a conceptual study phase to determine the feasibility and the applicability to nanosatellite missions, flight like prototypes of selected technology are fabricated for testing. The development program will further narrow down the effort to those technologies that are considered “mission-enabling” for future nanosatellite missions. These technologies will be flight qualified to be flown on upcoming nanosatellite missions. This paper will report on the status of our development program and provide details on the following technologies: Low power miniature cold gas thruster; Nanosatellite solid rocket motor; Solid propellant gas generator system for cold gas thruster; Low temperature hydrazine blends for miniature hydrazine thruster; MEMS mono propellant thruster using hydrogen peroxide.