NASA SBIR 2002 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER:02-II E2.05-7736 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 024263 )
SUBTOPIC TITLE: On-Board Propulsion
PROPOSAL TITLE: Pulsed Plasma Thruster Piezo-Igniter for Small Satellite

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN: (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/ZIP, Phone)
Face Electronics, LC
427 West 35th Street
Norfolk , VA   23508 - 3201
(757 ) 624 - 2121

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER: (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/ZIP, Phone)
427 West 35th Street
Norfolk , VA   23508 - 3201
(757 ) 624 - 2121

The proposal addressed the development of a novel discharge initiation (DI) system for application in small satellites (<40kg). Phase I has successfully demonstrated the potential of the technology for reducing onboard propulsion system mass and volume compared to current DI systems. The design eliminates, for the first time, the conventional discharge capacitor and the magnetic-transformer (bulky and EMI noisy) with a compact and highly efficient technology based on Face piezoelectric transformers, Transoner?. The proposal has particular relevance for micro and nano-spacecraft because of their need for advanced propulsion technologies that emphasize system simplicity, integration, low power requirements and minimal mass. The novel system, IGNIT-SONERTM, uses a high frequency (~60kHz) multispark rather than a single DC-capacitive discharge to achieve ignition conditions. This allows optimization of power consumption as well as increasing the reliability of the system. Phase II will integrate and adapt the technology to the specifications of the current PPTs. The piezo-igniter will be directly integrated inside the spark plug housing thus reducing further the final system package size as well as eliminating the high-voltage wiring. The resulting package will be much less complex and less expensive. This package will be flight-qualified in Phase III.

The resulting revolutionary PPT piezo-igniter concept offers unique benefits for the the current programs pursued by NASA. It will help provide critical advanced power technology and space propulsion systems that meet the needs of all NASA Enterprises and Strategic Technology areas, including significant reductions in launch vehicle and spacecraft cost, increased mission capabilities and flexibility, while enabling cost effective utilization and/or exploration. Specifically, the resulting revolutionary PPT piezo-igniter concept offers unique benefits to the current NASA missions for tightly controlled interferometry constellations. Fine impulse bit control achievable with small satellites enhances spacecraft attitude and positional control capabilities, providing enabling technology for optical interferometer spacecraft constellations envisioned for the future. The results of this R&D effort will improve system simplicity, reduce subsystem components, cost and weight, and increase overall thruster efficiency. In addition, the technology is expected to apply to other propulsion systems of interest for NASA requiring ignition systems such as chemical propulsion.

Interest in small satellites is growing fast worldwide. Businesses, governments, universities and other organizations around the world are starting their own small satellite programs. Smaller satellites offer shorter development times, on smaller budgets and can fulfill many of the functions of their larger counterparts. Consequently, small satellites can complement the services provided by the existing larger satellites, by providing cost effective solutions to specialist communications, remote sensing, rapid response science and military missions and technology demonstrators. Additionally, the results of this R&D will garner interest in many other commercial applications involving high voltage ignition systems. Ignition systems for small engines, automobiles, and aircraft propulsion are some of the examples.

Form Printed on 10-03-03 11:34