Advanced Hybrid Rocket Motor Propulsion Unit for CubeSats (PUC)

PI: John DeSain, Thomas Curtiss (Co-I), The Aerospace Corporation

This project will demonstrate a novel propulsion unit that utilizes a hybrid rocket motor. Hybrid rocket motors are an attractive bipropellant for use with CubeSats because unlike solid rocket motors, hybrid motors are not necessarily single-use thrusters and might be used for small time duration thrust events like those needed for stationkeeping or orientation control when a suitable igniter system is employed. They also can be used in longer duration burns for deorbit maneuvers or orbit insertion. Since one of the two propellants is a solid material they have much greater simplicity and lower weight considerations than bipropellant options using all liquid propellants. The propulsion unit will be designed to be compatible with the existing footprint of CubeSats. The combination of current state-of-the-art rapid prototyping of hybrid motor with current manufacturing of propellant systems in CubeSats could conceivably produce a high thrust bipropellant motor in a compact space that should easily outperform existing cold gas thruster technology on existing CubeSats and could easily incorporate many existing techniques used to produce propulsion units in CubeSats.

Paper: Design and Testing of an Additively Manufactured Advanced Hybrid Rocket Motor Propulsion Unit for CubeSats (PUC)

Technology Areas (?)
  • TA02 In-Space Propulsion Technologies
Problem Statement

See paper.

Technology Details

  • Selection Date
    NRA-2-APP-E (Aug 2013)
  • Program Status
  • Current TRL (?)
    TRL 3
    Successful FOP Flights
  • 0 sRLV

Development Team

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