QorTek is proposing a remarkable design of a subcompact solid-state (textured ceramic) actuated Xenon flow control systems that feeds a heaterless cathode assembly. Eliminating both pressure regulator and solenoid actuation, the revolutionary solid-state design introduces true linear response at higher bandwidth than anything presently available to the space community as to enable extremely precise flow rate control. One fill and drain port and three precision gas flow outputs will be provided to enable operation of an ion thruster, two of which will be used to enable operation of a Hall thruster. The new flow control system is capable of scaling such that it can fit as a universal assembly to the boss of a propellant storage tank. The pre- integrated electronic controller and power supply sub-system can accept external commands to set arbitrary flow rate profiles on each channel. This capability will enable both heaterless and heater-equipped hollow cathodes to be started and operated without adding additional components to the cathode gas lines. The innovation relies on our advances in textured ceramic actuation as to enable very fast valving operation. MHz pulse-width modulation allows users to set arbitrarily defined flow rates characteristics with extremely high precision. The availability of our system will greatly simplify the integration of electric propulsion systems onto small, medium, and large spacecraft and satellites due to its large size, weight, planform, and power reductions over all existing solutions. Its relatively low cost will encourage spacecraft designers to adopt the technology. Although the initial system is targeted toward NASA Class D missions, the extremely high reliability of our solid-state drive technology will enable all many NASA and commercial space missions to benefit from its use.
NASA programs, such as SIMPLEx, are identifying high-priority science objectives that could be addressed with SmallSat configurations from 6U CubeSats to 180kg ESPA-class. These include many missions meeting a variety of science objectives, seismic exploration, mapping water ice, magnetospheric boundary characterization, using a variety of instruments - spectrometers, lidar, reflectometers. The advanced flow control systems innovation would have substantial impact to all of these NASA missions.
The ability to now introduce in-line flow control valving that eliminates need for pressure regulators or secondary mechanical mechanisms to ensure normally closed operation would have immediate impact to many aircraft and rotorcraft systems enabling large bulk/weight reduction of engine flow systems, pneumatic systems (which represent an large size, weight, and lift penalty).