Small spacecraft propellant management

Year 2022
Project team

Paulo Lozano with Jonathan MacArthur

>1600 CubeSats launched to date
250 seconds is highest specific impulse of small chemical thrusters
Current propulsion is bulky and reduces payload volume

Efficient propulsion for small spacecraft

Modern spacecraft are getting smaller. “CubeSats” are becoming a standard in industry, academia and governments for a growing array of space missions with smaller allowable volumes. However, pressurized propellant systems do not scale down effectively to fit in these small spacecraft and take up valuable payload space. This project seeks to develop a solid-state, electrically-actuated flow controller chip that can distribute liquid propellant as a highly-scalable alternative to conventional pressurized propellant systems, enabling more usable payload volumes for small spacecraft.