Modular impulsive green-monopropellant propulsion system for micro/nano satellites high-thrust orbital maneuvers (MIMPS-G)

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Abstract

Innovation in small-satellite modern space missions and applications require propulsion capabilities to enable active operations in orbit, such as formation flying, rendezvous operations, orbital altitude & inclination changes, and orbital transfers,– generally, operations demanding high-thrust impulsive maneuvers. In addition, Green-monopropellants are current state-of-the-art of liquid propellants for small satellites space propulsion due to their safety, stability, storability, relative design simplicity, and high performance. These facts were the motive behind the design of the Modular Impulsive Propulsion System– namely MIMPS-G – that utilizes Green-monopropellants and is a prospect solution for micro- and nano- spacecraft, particularly CubeSats, requiring a modular propulsion system for high-thrust impulsive orbital maneuvers. The baseline design is a standard 1U that can be expanded depending on the spacecraft size, required thrust level, and mission’s ΔV requirements. System analysis and preliminary design of MIMPS-G are discussed, and system architecture is presented. Different pressurization-systems are investigated – conventional and unconventional relative to small-satellites – emphasizing on autogenous-pressurization system utilizing micro electric pump, since the choice of the pressurization-system will further affect the propulsion system overall performance, onboard power consumption, and the spacecraft size optimization. A tradeoff study with regards to the performance and characteristics of suitable monopropellants, to be utilized by MIMPS-G, is carried out to give insights for system design and architecture possibilities, as well as future studies concerned with monopropellant propulsion systems for various classes of space propulsion. Finally, candidate propulsion system utilizing a 0.5 N thruster – designated as MIMPS-G500mN – is introduced elaborating system’s architecture, analysis, design, and CAD models. MIMPS-G500mN offers total impulse 퐼푡표푡 ≅ 850 to 1350 N.s per 1U or >3000 푁.푠 per 2U expanded-layout depending on used propellant, which makes the latter a modular expandable propulsion system suitable for Lunar missions. Comparative results of the propulsion system properties using different monopropellants are tabulated – focusing on alternatives for the highly stable Hydroxyl-ammonium nitrate (HAN-) based monopropellant AF-M315E, that is the state-of-art of green-monopropellants.