University of Surrey

Test tubes in the lab Research in the ATI Dance Research

Design, development and evaluation of an 8 µPPT propulsion module for a 3U CubeSat application

Shaw, PV, Lappas, VJ and Underwood, CI Design, development and evaluation of an 8 µPPT propulsion module for a 3U CubeSat application In: 32nd International Electric Propulsion Conference, 2011-09-11 - 2011-09-15, Wiesbaden, Germany.

Available under License : See the attached licence file.

Download (1MB)
[img] Text (licence)

Download (1kB)


CubeSats to date have shown an excellent potential in providing quality science and demonstrating the use of COTS technology in space applications. A next stage in the evolution of CubeSat technology is the ability to demonstrate useable on board propulsion. A propulsion flight module has been designed and developed that will be able to provide pitch, roll and yaw around a central axis and translational movement in two axes. The module comprises of eight parallel bar micro Pulsed Plasma Thrusters (μPPTs). To aid in the miniaturisation there have been two significant changes. The first was a replacement of the typical sparkplug with a contact trigger mechanism that initiates a discharge. The second was the removal of the typical TeflonTM propellant bar used in PPTs between the discharging electrodes. In studies at the Surrey Space Centre it was shown that discharges without the presence of TeflonTM produced 60-75% the impulsebit (based on integral calculations of the averaged current discharge profiles) compared to discharges which had the presence of TeflonTM between the electrodes, at the parameters that were tested. The mass eroded for the plasma production was theorised to originate from the electrodes, which is similar in the mechanisms of operation to the Vacuum Arc Thruster (VAT). The module is split into three PC104 boards, two boards house four μPPTs and the third board is the power unit. The power unit uses award winning minature voltage multipliers that take the 5V CubeSat bus voltage and transforms this to 800V for the PPT high voltage capacitors. This paper focuses on the developmental work that has been conducted to construct a propulsion module for the Surrey Training Research and Nano-satellite Demonstration (STRaND) 3U CubeSat.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Conference Paper)
Divisions : Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences > Electronic Engineering > Surrey Space Centre
Authors :
Shaw, PV
Lappas, VJ
Underwood, CI
Additional Information : Paper presented at the 32nd International Electric Propulsion Conference, Wiesbaden, Germany September 11–15, 2011. Copyright the authors.
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 23 Mar 2012 09:44
Last Modified : 31 Oct 2017 14:15

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

Information about this web site

© The University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 7XH, United Kingdom.
+44 (0)1483 300800