Solar Electric Propulsion CubeSat Bus for Deep Space Missions

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

$125K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

ExoTerra Resource LLC
10579 Bradford Rd
Littleton , CO 80127
Principal Investigator, Firm POC

Abstract

As electronics continue to shrink in size, the capabilities of CubeSats continues to expand. CubeSats can now perform a wide range of sensing and telecommunications applications. However, CubeSats have been limited in their ability to conduct propulsive maneuvers and to withstand deep space environments. This limits them to the orbits they are deposited in from their rideshare flight. ExoTerra's Solar Electric Propulsion CubeSat Bus opens a whole new set of mission opportunities to CubeSats by providing over 1 km/s of dV for CubeSats through its 6U bus. The bus expands the CubeSat state of the art by implementing 3x higher power solar arrays, high efficiency power distribution and a low power, high efficiency Hall Thruster. To meet deep space mission requirements, we add guidance and navigation systems, incorporate radiation tolerant electronics and integrate thermal control systems into the bus. The SEP CubeSat project demonstrates a first of its kind propulsive capability by building, qualifying and flying the SEP CubeSat. The mission launches from the SLS opportunity in 2017. After Translunar Injection, the Cubesat uses its SEP system to perform lunar orbit insertion and spiral in, becoming the first Cubesat to successfully perform a capture maneuver at another celestial body.