Today many spacecraft carry two propulsion options: high thrust required for high acceleration maneuvers such as orbit insertion and rapid response; and low thrust required for station keeping and less critical maneuvers. A new class of non-toxic monopropellants, such as AF-M315E and LMP-103S, perform well in both high and low thrust regimes. Significant investments are maturing both monopropellants into propulsion systems tailored for each option. Of interest is leveraging these new technologies into a common propellant, dual mode propulsion system with integrated system design and performance.
In support of this concept, Plasma Processes will design an AF-M315E-based dual mode propulsion system in cooperation with Georgia Tech. The baseline system is an extended 4-unit CubeSat propulsion module with four 100 mN thrusters for roll, pitch, and yaw maneuvers; and one 5N thruster for Delta-V maneuvers. The propulsion module is easily expanded to an 8-unit module, allowing for more propellant and longer missions.
Non-toxic monopropellants are positioned to provide increased mission safety, reduced life cycle costs, and increased performance over state-of-the-art alternatives. From a spacecraft perspective, a single propellant, dual mode propulsion system can reduce weight and volume, allowing for more payload and greater propulsion flexibility. From a mission perspective, the technology facilitates the use of less expensive launch vehicles, less stringent launch requirements, and transfer to desired orbit. This concept enables frequent low-cost missions allowing for iteration and opportunities to improve technologies.
Interplanetary Deep Space Exploration (AEOLUS, CUVE, CHARIOT), Asteroid Exploration (ROSS, APEX), Lunar Exploration (CUBEX), Earth Science & Observation
Earth Observation (PLANET LABS), Satellite De-Orbit De-commissioning & Escape Orbits, Global Connectivity (OneWeb, STARLINK/SpaceX, Athena/Facebook), Science & Technology Missions (NOAA), Low Cost Launch Providers