New green propulsion for Cubesat satellites

Cubesat satellites are conquering space market and are sign of changes in approach to space services. Not without a reason - their potential is still increasing.

NASA announced about their new public-private partnership with Aerojet Rocketdyne for developing new propulsion system for satellites. It would not be surprising fact - NASA is space agency and sometimes it is developing new engines under public-private agreements. But this time, new propulsion is designed for Cubesat and nano satellites. Aerojet Rocketdyne is developing green fuel which is very low toxic along with thruster system will provide modular engine with dimensions only at 10 cm x 10 cm x 11 cm. It sounds more likely science fiction but it is not - small nano satellites will be soon equipped with 3 axis propulsion possible to be installed without risk of serious injuries for assembling personnel - installing thruster will be as easy as manufacturing CubeSat without propulsion at the present. New system is called MPS-130 CubeSat High-Impulse Adaptable Modular Propulsion System (CHAMPS) and is fueled with AF-M315E which is basically hydroxyl ammonium nitrate (NH3OHNO3) - energetic ionic liquid.  It is offering up to 50% higher performance then hydrazine without its toxic characteristic. Whole propulsion unit weighs 1.6 kg with propellant. It is creating new possibilities for CubeSat - propulsion could add new features for these small satellites, like attitude control, de-orbit possibility or momentum management.


Aerojet Rocketdyne, NASA to Collaborate on CubeSat Propulsion System Development