Perform a feasibility study on the use of embedded electrospray thruster (EET) technology as a small-satellite orbital debris reduction tool. The study includes direct measurements of performance of an EET prototype, with results used in astrodynamics simulations investigating the application to end-of-life (EOL) de-orbit or disposal and collision avoidance. The outcome of this work is a summary of the size, weight, power, and cost (SWaP-C) penalty for using the EET technology as an orbital debris reduction tool for mission in all Earth orbits, ranging from LEO through to GEO.
Findings from Objectives 1-4 will be reported in a single Phase I Final Report detailing SWaP-C penalty and orbital debris reduction potential of the EET technology. The report will demonstrate that the EET thruster component has achieved TRL 5 and will propose follow-on development for a Phase II SBIR study to raise the TRL level of the complete EET system, including power processing unit (PPU) to TRL 6.
An embedded electrospray thruster propulsion system implemented as a low Size, Weight, Power, and Cost (SWaP-C) technology that enables end-of-life satellite disposal and collision avoidance maneuvers for small satellites to reduce the amount of orbital debris build-up in critical orbits over time. An array of electrospray thrusters embedded into existing satellite structural elements gives 6 DOF (degree of freedom) maneuvering capabilities to small satellites while maximizing the available payload volume.
Small satellite missions are increasing in complexity. An embedded electrospray thruster will enable longer, more intricate missions by providing active maneuverability while also increasing the available payload volume inside a small satellite allowing for larger, more complex scientific payloads.