Pulsed plasma thruster for multi-axis cubesat attitude control applications

Aditya R. Khuller, Omar Alavi, Joseph Mayer, Tyler J. Lanes, Patrick Needham, Surya S. Rajagopalan, Ashley Curiel, Dominic Bonelli, Erskine Thompson, Ryley Miller, Madison Grayson, Noah Sandys, Daniel B. White, Pavlos G. Mikellides

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Scopus citations


Pulsed plasma thrusters (PPTs) typically utilize a solid propellant such as Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) to generate moderate specific impulse at the low-power scale. This work discusses the design and development of a multi-axis PPT module with a compact form factor of 0.9U and a maximum mass of ~1 kg, thereby minimizing system volume and mass to enable larger science payloads. The PPT has eight thrusters integrated into a single thruster module to allow for multi-axis control, a key feature not currently available in any COTS (commercial, off-the shelf) PPT. Copper-tungsten alloys and molybdenum, both of which have been shown to have relatively low electrode erosion rates, will be used for the PPT design’s electrodes. Analytical results have shown that the multi-axis PPT configuration enables fine pointing, which can allow for precise scientific measurements of targets in deep space, as well as the potential to enable formation flying missions. Additionally, the PPT can also be used for station keeping, deorbiting and reaction-wheel momentum dumping with a predicted minimum specific impulse of 1000s and a minimum impulse bit of 100 μNs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2018 Joint Propulsion Conference
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc, AIAA
ISBN (Print)9781624105708
StatePublished - 2018
Event54th AIAA/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference, 2018 - Cincinnati, United States
Duration: Jul 9 2018Jul 11 2018

Publication series

Name2018 Joint Propulsion Conference


Conference54th AIAA/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference, 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Control and Systems Engineering


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