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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

Fiber Fed Advanced Pulsed Plasma Thruster (APPT), Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

CU Aerospace (CUA) proposes the development of the Advanced Pulsed Plasma Thruster (APPT) that will enable cis-lunar and deep space missions for small satellites. While classic PPT technology is mature, it has historically been limited by its size and propellant load to small Delta-V applications. A recent advancement by CUA, Monofilament Vaporization Propulsion (MVP), uses extrusion 3D printing technology to provide polymer propellant to an electrothermal thruster. APPT will leverage this advancement, using PTFE fiber to allow for class-leading propellant capacity and more reliable feed than previous PPT designs. APPT is inherently safe, containing no pressurants or hazardous materials, significantly reducing range safety concerns. A 1U APPT, operating at 1200 seconds Isp, will provide 10,400 N-s total impulse, allowing for 1,400 m/s Delta-V for an 8 kg CubeSat. Increasing to a 2U form factor increases total impulse to 30,000 N-s, allowing for a Delta-V exceeding 4 km/s. CUA anticipates delivering to NASA an integrated system by the end of Phase II which includes the advanced thruster head, PTFE filament feed system, and an ACS subsystem. More »

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Technology Maturity (TRL)

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