CubeSat Propulsion at George Washington University

First firing of synchronized 3-channel Micro-Cathode Arc Thruster subsystem at NASA Ames Research Center Spaceshop, August 2013

First firing of synchronized 3-channel Micro-Cathode Arc Thruster subsystem at NASA Ames Research Center Spaceshop, August 2013

Samudra Haque N3RDX is involved in developing a Micro-Cathode Arc Thruster (μCAT) propulsion system for CubeSats.

The Micropropulsion and Nanotechnology Laboratory (MpNL, http://www.mpnl.seas.gwu.edu/), of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, of George Washington University (Washington, DC), announced at the 2014 IEEE Aerospace Conference (Big Sky, MT), a ground breaking electric propulsion application opportunity for the global Small Satellite community: the On-orbit Micro-propulsion eXperiment Program (OMXP) started on March 1, 2014.

The program is initially targeted to educational institutions with pico/nano/micro-satellites who are seeking propulsion systems for their space missions. The MpNL has ongoing research activity in scalable, small, efficient and safer electric propulsion systems, and is preparing flight hardware for the first on-orbit demonstration mission, of a 4-channel Micro-Cathode Arc Thruster (μCAT) subsystem, in 2015 onboard a 1.5U CubeSat that is fully funded. μCAT subsystems were tested and evaluated at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 5 in August, 2013.

GWU-ARC Mapers Micro-Cathode Arc Thruster PhoneSat Experiment

GWU-ARC Mapers Micro-Cathode Arc Thruster PhoneSat Experiment

The OMXP program is intended to support further technology readiness level raising exercises of the current subsystem and its more capable next generation derivatives that will continue to be researched and prototyped at MpNL, by partnering with experimental spacecraft designers, as early adopters, seeking to add capabilities to their space missions such as: station keeping, orbit maintenance, orbit adjustment, attitude control, orbit transfer, in-space propulsion, deorbit system and proximity operations, or other uses. The program will actively support the co-development of microthruster subsystems compatible with the emerging 3U-6U CubeSat standards, and where practical, for larger bus designs up to 50 Kg mass.

Academic institutions/affiliated groups are invited to propose, as Joint Research Partner, collaborative projects where μCAT or its next generation derivatives can be utilized on a Space mission, in lieu of an affordable cost-recovery agreement for parts, and through the execution of collaborative joint agreements for intellectual property rights, data collection, reporting, publication, and any other issues of mutual interest.

1-ch uCAT subsystem by Micropropulsion and Nanotechnology Lab (c) 2013 Samudra Haque N3RDX

1-ch uCAT subsystem by Micropropulsion and Nanotechnology Lab (c) 2013 Samudra Haque N3RDX

All academic institutions/affiliated groups are welcome to apply. International institutions may be subject to compliance with requirements of applicable U.S. export laws.

The MpNL sincerely appreciates support by industry partners for the On-orbit Micro-propulsion eXperiment Program, and welcomes interested participants, subject to compliance with University regulations on sponsorship.

Samudra Haque N3RDX
Ph.D Candidate
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
The George Washington University
samudra@gwu.edu
(202) 812-3325