Advanced In-Space Propulsion (AISP): Micro Electrospray Propulsion (MEP)

Metadata Updated: May 2, 2019

Propulsion technology is often critical for space missions. High-value missions could be done with very small spacecraft, even CubeSats, but these nanosatellites currently have little propulsion capability. After CubeSats are deployed, they usually just tumble or drift away from the transport spacecraft. They cannot transfer to higher value orbits, maintain their orbit, or even deorbit. Larger spacecraft would benefit from highprecision attitude-control systems to maintain the desired orbit and point in the desired direction. Existing attitude-control systems, like reaction wheels, are very complex and may have insufficient lifetimes. NASA is investing in Microfluidic Electrospray Propulsion (MEP) thrusters to provide the new propulsion capabilities to address both of these mission needs. Chemical propulsion systems are limited to the combustion energy available in the chemical bonds of the fuel and the acceleration provided by a converging-diverging nozzle. Electric propulsion uses electric power to accelerate propellant to very high exhaust velocities—up to 10 times greater than for chemical propulsion. This increases the momentum transfer efficiency or the fuel economy. The propellant efficiency of thrusters, which is proportional to the exhaust velocity, is referred to as the "specific impulse," or ISP, measured in seconds. The state of the art for CubeSats is cold gas propulsion with an ISP of 50 to 80 s. The chemical propulsion main engine for the space shuttles demonstrated an ISP of 450 s. However, the target ISP for MEP systems is greater than 1500 s—enough to transfer a 1-kg 10-cm cube from low Earth orbit to interplanetary space with only 200 g of propellant.

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Public: This dataset is intended for public access and use. License: U.S. Government Work

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Metadata Created Date August 1, 2018
Metadata Updated Date May 2, 2019

Metadata Source

Harvested from NASA Data.json

Additional Metadata

Resource Type Dataset
Metadata Created Date August 1, 2018
Metadata Updated Date May 2, 2019
Publisher Space Technology Mission Directorate
Unique Identifier TECHPORT_13649
Maintainer Email
Public Access Level public
Bureau Code 026:00
Metadata Context
Metadata Catalog ID
Schema Version
Catalog Describedby
Datagov Dedupe Retained 20190501230127
Harvest Object Id b6a7940b-7d87-4ab9-baa1-16e8c2fff7d0
Harvest Source Id 39e4ad2a-47ca-4507-8258-852babd0fd99
Harvest Source Title NASA Data.json
Data First Published 2015-09-01
Homepage URL
Data Last Modified 2018-07-19
Program Code 026:027
Source Datajson Identifier True
Source Hash a71d255aa21e2b986b2d5ceb0beba1357f4f6a1a
Source Schema Version 1.1

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