NASA SBIR 2019-II Solicitation

Proposal Summary

 19-2- Z8.01-3357
 Chemical Propulsion Systems for Small Satellite Missions
 Warm Gas Generator Resistojet Micropropulsion System
SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Benchmark Space Systems, Inc.
2 Gregory Drive
South Burlington, VT 05403
(802) 999-8211

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Michael McDevitt
13 Starbird Road
Jericho, VT 05465 - 2516
(802) 999-8211

BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Michael McDevitt
13 Starbird Road
Jericho, VT 05465 - 2516
(802) 999-8211

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) :
Begin: 5
End: 6
Technical Abstract (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)

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:

  • Unpressurized launch: The system is launched unpressurized, and then pressurizes after a post-launch checkout. This eliminates risk associated with pressurized launches.
  • Long Term Storage: Since the system does not need to be pressurized until thrust is required, it can sit in a quiescent state for up to 2 years with no performance degradation or propellant lost to leakage.
  • High Thrust: The system is capable of operating at thrust levels up to 1N, making it viable for impulsive maneuvers.
  • Low Cost: The system is based around commercial-off-the-shelf components and a low-cost propellant, making it attractive for both NASA and commercial customers.

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.

Potential NASA Applications (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)

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.

Potential Non-NASA Applications (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)

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.

Duration: 18

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