Micro Cluster Propulsion for Nanosatellite Control

Period of Performance: 09/01/1998 - 06/01/1999


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Phrasor Scientific, Inc.
15536 Highland Avenue
Duarte, CA 91010
Principal Investigator

Research Institution

Stanford University
3160 Porter Drive, Suite 100
Palo Alto, CA 94304
Institution POC

Research Topics


This proposal describes a miniaturized propulsion technology aimed at fulfilling nanothruster requirements for station keeping and attitude control or nanosatellites. This technology, based on the generation and acceleration of. micro-clusters to provide thrust, is a candidate to fulfilll micro-electric propulsion requirements potentially capable of lessening constraint in the design of nanosatellites for constellation operation. Candidate thrusters already operating with emitter geometries in the 10's of micron range are most amenable to submicron design, thus subject to batch Fabrication, and capable of producing impulse bits in the nano-newton-second range. The proposed research will use test systems, developed on earlier microthruster work, to generate micropropulsion performance data For later verification involving a coordinated prograin with Stanford University. The research includes the design, construction and testing of charged microcluster emitters to evaluate and verify thrust and specific impulse operation. Propellant flow control will be examined with the aim of eliminating the use of valves. Finally, the materials and structural requirements for batch fabrication using MEM's type geometries will be identified.