The University of Southampton

Optimization of a PPT for nano and pico satellite applications

High Voltage Engineering
Mars Space Ltd

The aim of the research is to study the factors affecting the lifetime of pulsed plasma thruster (PPT) for nano and pico satellites applications and to optimize their performance whilst keeping lifetime long enough to fulfil their mission requirements. The baseline thruster to be used in the campaign will be the PPTCUP propulsion subsystem already developed at the University of Southampton to provide drag compensation for Cubesats. The test campaign is mainly focus on the performance testing and on the lifetime. The performance testing needs to verify the thruster performance in terms of impulse bit, thrust, specific impulse; a thrust balance able to measure the impulse bit delivered by the PPT will also be developed. The lifetime has the aim to verify the PPT lifetime and its total impulse capability. The test will consist in firing the thruster until all the propellant has been used or until the required total impulse has been reached. The results obtained from the whole test campaign will be used to develop a model able to predict the influence of the thruster geometric design parameters over performances in terms of thrust, specific impulse and ablated mass per shot. The tests will also be used to understand what the main life limiting mechanism of PPTCUP is and how its lifetime can be extended.

Primary investigators

Associated research group

  • Electronics and Electrical Engineering
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