Evaluation of Additively-Manufactured, Consumable Structure Options for Small Spacecraft Propulsion Systems

Metadata Updated: July 17, 2020

A propulsion system for small spacecraft is proposed that will be partially contained in the spacecraft structure. The preliminary design will fit into a 3-Unit (U) sized CubeSat with the payload occupying 1-U and the propulsion system occupying the remaining space. The structure of the 2-U section will be partially comprised of four additively-manufactured acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) fueled hybrid rocket motors.

Additively manufacturing the ABS fuel grains serves two purposes. One, it allows the fuel grains to be 3D printed within the overall spacecraft structure, thereby replacing structural mass with usable fuel. Once the fuel has been exhausted, a portion of the structure will remain to ensure the spacecraft structure continues to be sound. Second, unlike extruded ABS, 3D printed ABS possesses the capability to produce electrical arc ignition when a voltage is sent through electrodes embedded in the fuel grain. Such ignition coupled with the hybrid rocket motor's throttling abilities results in a reliably restartable propulsive system. Since the hybrid motor fuel and oxidizer are stored separately, there is also no chance of accidental ignition.

A safe, reliable, restartable propulsion system is desirable for small spacecraft that must participate in rideshares to reach orbit. Once placed in orbit, the spacecraft must rely on on-board propulsion for attitude and orbit control. The proposed partially-consumable structure will increase the safety and efficiency of small spacecraft propulsion compared to currently available hydrazine systems. This is significant for small spacecraft endeavors because rideshares are more likely to accept spacecraft that contain non-hazardous propulsive fuels that will not accidentally ignite. Additionally, an on-board propulsion system with restart capabilities will grant small spacecraft missions the ability to pursue a wider range of mission objectives. The proposed mass-reducing and safety- and efficiency-increasing propulsion system is an innovative enhancement for the growing small spacecraft industry.

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Metadata Created Date August 1, 2018
Metadata Updated Date July 17, 2020

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Harvested from NASA Data.json

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Resource Type Dataset
Metadata Created Date August 1, 2018
Metadata Updated Date July 17, 2020
Publisher Space Technology Mission Directorate
Unique Identifier TECHPORT_88553
Public Access Level public
Bureau Code 026:00
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Harvest Source Id 39e4ad2a-47ca-4507-8258-852babd0fd99
Harvest Source Title NASA Data.json
Data First Published 2018-08-01
Homepage URL https://techport.nasa.gov/view/88553
Data Last Modified 2020-01-29
Program Code 026:027
Source Datajson Identifier True
Source Hash 4ba51d439eb3d5aa44e08e5979363f802d04b1ca
Source Schema Version 1.1

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