Assessment of Multi-Mode spacecraft micropropulsion systems

Steven P. Berg, Joshua L. Rovey

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


Multi-mode spacecraft micropropulsion systems which include a high-thrust chemical mode and high-specific impulse electric mode are assessed with specific reference to cubesat-sized satellite applications. Both cold gas Freon-14 propellant and ionic liquid chemical monopropellant modes were investigated alongside pulsed plasma, electrospray, and helicon electric thruster modes. Systems involving chemical monopropellants have the highest payload mass fractions for a reference mission of a 500 m/s delta-V and 6U sized cubesat for electric propulsion usage below 55% of total delta-V. For higher electric propulsion usage, cold gas thrusters delivered a higher payload mass fraction due to lower system inert mass. Due to the combination of utilizing a common propellant for both propulsive modes, low inert mass, and high electric thrust, the cold-gas chemical/helicon-type electric combination had the highest mission flexibility, able to achieve a delta-V 10% lower than that of the largest delta-V system, but at roughly 500 days less burn time. A System utilizing a monopropellant thruster and electrospray thruster can achieve the largest delta-V, but with a burn time of over 600 days. This same system, however, can achieve the largest delta-V for missions requiring a thrust time of less than roughly 10 days.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication50th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference 2014
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9781624103032
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes
Event50th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference and exhibit 2014 - Cleveland, United States
Duration: Jul 28 2014Jul 30 2014

Publication series

Name50th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference 2014


Other50th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference and exhibit 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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