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Electrospray Thrusters for Attitude Control of a 1-U CubeSat

  • Author(s): Timilsina, Navin
  • Advisor(s): Gamero-Castano, Manuel
  • et al.
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License
Abstract

With a rapid increase in the interest in use of nanosatellites in the past decade, finding a precise and low-power-consuming attitude control system for these satellites has been a real challenge. In this thesis, it is intended to design and test an electrospray thruster system that could perform the attitude control of a 1-unit CubeSat.

Firstly, an experimental setup is built to calculate the conductivity of different liquids that could be used as propellants for the CubeSat. Secondly, a Time-Of-Flight experiment is performed to find out the thrust and specific impulse given by these liquids and hence selecting the optimum propellant. On the other hand, a colloidal thruster system for a 1-U CubeSat is designed in Solidworks and fabricated using Lathe and CNC Milling Machine. Afterwards, passive propellant feeding is tested in this thruster system. Finally, the electronic circuit and wireless control system necessary to remotely control the CubeSat is designed and the final testing is performed.

Among the propellants studied, Ethyl ammonium nitrate (EAN) was selected as the best propellant for the CubeSat. Theoretical design and fabrication of the thruster system was performed successfully and so was the passive propellant feeding test. The satellite was assembled for the final experiment but unfortunately the microcontroller broke down during the first test and no promising results were found out. However, after proving that one thruster works with passive feeding, it could be said that the ACS testing would have worked if we had performed vacuum compatibility tests for other components beforehand.

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