High Performance Microthrusters for Microsatellites

Period of Performance: 11/14/2000 - 08/14/2001


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Sienna Technologies, Inc.
19501 144th Avenue NE Array
Woodinville, WA 98072
Firm POC
Principal Investigator

Research Institution

University of Washington
Department of Aeronautics&Astronautics, Box 352250
Seattle, WA 98195
Institution POC


This SBIR program will identify a non-toxic, high energy density propellant, a catalyst, catalyst bed, combustion chamber and exhaust nozzle material, and design a prototype propulsion system for microsatellites. Computer modeling experiments will be carried out to design a micropropulsion system, and its performance will be simulated using several mono- and bipropellants. The propellants showing the best performance will be selected for compatibility studies with candidate catalyst, catalyst bed, combustion chamber, and exhaust nozzle materials. The initial materials screening will be accomplished through chemical thermodynamics calculations. The promising propellant, catalyst, catalyst bed, combustion chamber, and exhaust nozzle materials combinations will be prepared and their chemical compatibility will be established through high temperature chemical exposure experiments. A micropropulsion system design complete with a high density propellant, catalyst, catalyst bed, combustion chamber, and exhaust nozzle material will be prepared. The developed chemical micropropulsion technology will provide an enabling technology for microsatellites which are proposed for many military and commercial applications. The commercial applications include communications and imaging satellites, companions to large satellites to provide surveillance and inspection capabilities such as to monitor and assure proper deployment of solar panels.