μPPT - Development of an Ignition Unit and Electronic Interface of a μPPT Flight Unit
The trend to microsatellites (wet mass ≤ 100 kg) and even nanosatellites (wet mass ≤ 1 kg) necessitates the development of miniaturized spacecraft components such as the propulsion system. Due to the small satellite mass and volume the general notion is that Electric Propulsion systems (EP) are the first choice for such satellites.
However, due to the very restricted available volume, mass, and power in particular for nanosatellites, the implementation of a propulsion system is very demanding and up to now there has been no propulsion system available for this task. Naturally, the difficulties increase with decreasing satellite size.
AIT initiated the investigation of the possibility to develop a propulsion system for small satellites in 2007. An initial assessment of existing (TRL ≥ 3) and proposed (TRL < 3) propulsion systems showed that a miniaturized pulsed plasma thruster (μPPT) is most beneficial and at the same time provides the highest probability to obtain a TRL of > 5 within a relatively short time.
Presently, AIT has succeeded to design and test a battleship PCB and μPPT with a new and advanced ignition system. With this system the system lifetime has been increased to more than 100,000 cycles within the first 6 months of the project, an enhancement of more than 500 %. The picture above shows the AIT μPPT in operation. Further improvements of the lifetime are expected to be implemented until the end of the project.
AIT Austrian Institute of technology GmbH - Carsten Scharlemann
AIT Austrian Institute of technology GmbH
Tel.: +43 (505) 50 - 3143