In this SBIR Phase II project, Benchmark Space Systems proposes to build a resistojet micropropulsion system based on proprietary warm gas generator technology. Results from Phase I of this project indicate that a system built around a resistojet thruster could increase specific impulse by up to 110% while remaining within the power budget of a typical CubeSat/SmallSat mission. That level of specific impulse would make the proposed propulsion system useful for Lunar and deep space missions, as well as enhancing the capabilities of low Earth orbit missions.
The key advantages of the proposed system include:
This technical effort will take the concept evaluated and tested in Phase I and bring it to a flight-ready propulsion system that can be inserted into a range of upcoming commercial, DoD, or NASA technology demonstrations.
NASA has identified CubeSats and SmallSats as a valuable platform for performing technology demonstrations and scientific research on a modest budget. Past, planned, or anticipated missions using CubeSats include Earth observation, Low Earth Orbit activities, and Lunar and deep space missions. Propulsion is a key enabling technology for many future mission concepts, and the characteristics of the system developed and tested in this Phase II SBIR Project offer a meaningful enhancement to current state-of-the-art.
There are dozens of announced commercial constellations based around CubeSats/SmallSats, representing tens of thousands of potential new small satellites in orbit. The propulsion system developed and tested during Phase II of this project would be well-suited to the safety, performance, and cost considerations of the commercial market.