Vaporizing Liquid Microthrusters with integrated heaters and temperature measurement

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This paper presents the results of design, manufacturing and characterization of Vaporizing Liquid Microthrusters (VLM) with integrated molybdenum heaters and temperature sensing. The thrusters use water as the propellant and are designed for use in CubeSats and PocketQubes. The devices are manufactured using silicon based MEMS (Micro Electro Mechanical Systems) technology and include resistive heaters to vaporize the propellant. The measurements of the heaters’ resistances are used to estimate the temperature in the vaporizing chamber. The manufacturing process is described as well as the characterization of the thrusters’ structural and electrical elements. In total 12 devices with different combinations of heaters and nozzles have been assessed and four of them have been used to demonstrate the successful operation of the thrusters. Results are used to validate the thrusters and show a performance close to the design parameters and comparable to other devices found in the literature.