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Monofilament Vaporization Propulsion (MVP) System, Phase II

Active Technology Project

Project Introduction

Monofilament Vaporization Propulsion (MVP) is an innovative new propulsion technology targeted at secondary payload applications. The approach with MVP, rather than using exotic propellants to achieve maximum specific impulse and system performance, is to use an inexpensive, inert, solid propellant. This enables the use of a propulsion system on lower budget missions by lowering the unit cost (no valves or pressure vessels), and minimizes range safety expenses. By using a commercially available, space rated polymer as propellant, MVP overcomes potential issues associated with liquid propellants such as freezing, over-pressurization, degradation (of tank wall and/or propellant itself), and cg perturbations due to sloshing. As a result, MVP's standalone risk to the primary payload is no greater than that of a CubeSat not equipped with propulsion. MVP harnesses technology used in 3D printing applications to feed propellant into proven electrothermal propulsion technology developed by CU Aerospace. To date, MVP has demonstrated a continuous 105 seconds specific impulse with 20 W input power, with 107 seconds peak. Phase II performance is expected to exceed 130 seconds. This should provide 900 N-s total impulse with a 1U (10 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm) system, attributable to the high storage density and permissible thin walled construction. A 4 kg, 3U CubeSat equipped with MVP could achieve 250 m/s Delta-V while expending less than 25 W during operation. CU Aerospace will design, fabricate, and deliver a 1U MVP system to NASA at the end of the Phase II program. More »

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