This program will design, fabricate, and test a dual mode propulsion system in a non-flight-weight configuration using a novel energetic, low-toxicity ionic liquid for both high thrust (conventional catalyst-based monopropulsion system) and low thrust (electrospray) engines. Non-Stoichiometric HydroxyEthyl Hydrazinium Nitrate (NSHEHN), developed under Army and NASA SBIR programs, will be used for both engines. It is favored over hydrazine for monopropellant systems because of its very low vapor pressure which makes it much less toxic. The advantage over the Air Force-developed monopropellant, AF-M315E, is that it uses a conventional catalyst bed at 200ºC compared to an expensive specialized catalyst bed at over 500ºC. It is particularly applicable to electrospray propulsion because it is already composed of ions does not require energy to convert a non-ionic fluid to an ionic state. The two engines will be designed and tested separately and a breadboard system designed for use in Phase II.
Application of C3 Propulsion’s Ionic Liquid propulsion technology will be applicable throughout NASA. In particular, it will be of use in satellite insertion and station keeping, manned and unmanned attitude control, advanced space station, propulsion for Lunar and Mars missions, and deep space robotic missions. The dual mode operation will reduce the size and weight of systems that use separate high and low thrust engines. The ionic liquid reduces the life cycle/logistics costs and lowers the catalyst bed power requirements.
C3 Propulsion's Ionic Liquid technology is useful for any missile or satellite station keeping applications as a low toxicity replacement for conventional hydrazine-based monopropellants, as well as DoD specific needs including tactical, air-to-air, air-to-ground, and ballistic missile defense applications. Satellite manufacturers would be interested for position and station keeping abilities.