Historically, pulsed plasma systems have targeted small Delta-V applications. With the demonstrated high performance of CUAs PPT-11 (Isp > 1200 seconds) and the innovative propellant feed and storage system of the recently developed CUA Monofilament Vaporization Propulsion (MVP) thruster, APPT exceeds the goals of the Z8.01 topic and outperforms previous state of the art PPT systems, as well as newer technologies such as electrospray and helicon thrusters. With an anticipated 10,400 N-s total impulse from a 1U system, large orbit transfers and even inclination changes of tens of degrees are now available to smaller satellites. The intrinsic safety of APPT and its inert, unpressurized propellant position it as a prime candidate for secondary payload missions where costs and logistics are dominated by range safety concerns. The solid propellant has no handling, storage, or operational restrictions. The ease of handling and storage for the solid propellant can extend operation to planetary missions with no additional monitoring or controls.
Commercial interest in very small satellites continues to grow. In the 1-50 kg satellite sector, launches have shifted from a fairly balanced distribution between civil, government, commercial, and defense (2009-2015) to a distribution dominated by commercial interests. Moving forward, it is more important than ever that these satellites have access to propulsion systems to extend their asset time on orbit. The proposed thruster offers CubeSats and other small satellites a significant propulsion capability with high total impulse per unit volume. The APPT thruster will provide a compact, light-weight, non-hazardous propulsion technology solution that will be made available in a family of sizes that can meet the differing needs of users in DOD, industry, and academia for CubeSat and small-satellite missions. APPT will require no safety equipment for storage, transportation, integration, and testing, and place no demanding requirements on the launch provider, making it an ideal low-cost solution for industry, research, and academic small-satellite propulsion needs.