CubeSat High Impulse Propulsion System (CHIPS)

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014

$750K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

CU Aerospace, LLC
301 North Neil Street, Suite 502
Champaign, IL 61820
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Abstract

CU Aerospace proposes to perform design, fabrication, and ground test validation of a nanosat primary propulsion subsystem using non-toxic R134a propellant. Our approach, called CubeSat High Impulse Propulsion System (CHIPS), leverages CU Aerospace's very high efficiency warm-gas variant of an innovative resistojet that significantly boosts the performance of standard cold-gas systems with the existing Micro Propulsion System (MiPS) thruster technology development by our team partner, VACCO Industries. The MiPS system has been tested to 200,000 cycles without any technical issues, demonstrating excellent reliability. A 1.5U CHIPS subsystem, using non-toxic R134a propellant, is a compact thruster system having a total impulse of 680 N-s and a fully throttleable continuous thrust of 30 mN. The subsystem also includes an R134a 3-axis cold-gas attitude control system to replace reaction wheels. Approximately 25 W of primary power is required from a lithium-ion battery included in the 1.5U package. This low-cost subsystem demonstration will pioneer a family of nanosat propulsion systems, which will become available to the CubeSat and nanosatellite communities for orbit change, de-orbit, precision maneuvering, and drag makeup missions.