- 04/05/2019 – Official CAD concept model for the AIS-gPPT1 Gridded Pulsed Plasma Thruster revealed on social media.
- 04/12/2019 – Construction started on the thruster electrodes.
- 04/15/2019 – Thruster electrodes and Teflon plates drilled.
- 04/19/2019 – Thruster electrodes polished.
- 04/26/2019 – Igniter pins soldered to ignition electrode.
- 04/29/2019 – Connection wires soldered to copper electrodes.
- 04/30/2019 – Electrode plates cleaned and polished.
- 05/06/2019 – AIS-gPPT1 final assembly complete and publicly revealed. Thruster mounted to conflat feedthrough.
- 05/07/2019 – First ignition test of the AIS-gPPT1 thruster. Test terminated due to insufficient ignition of the thruster, as well as significant arcing between vacuum connections, and catastrophic failure of almost all instrumentation electronics.
- 05/08/2019 – Video and pictures publicly released of official captured successful ignition of the thruster at high vacuum levels during the first ignition test.
- 05/14/2019 – AIS-gPPT1 design is officially obsolete. Efforts are under way for new designs of the next generation AIS-gPPT2 thruster.
The AIS-gPPT1 Gridded Pulsed Plasma Thruster represents the newest advance of prototype micro pulsed plasma thrusters at Applied Ion Systems. This thruster radically diverges from conventional and standard pulsed plasma thrusters, with a specific emphasis on scaling and miniaturization, geared towards PocketQube-class satellites.
The AIS-gPPT1 features an unconventional flat stacked-plate geometry, aiming to radically reduce the space required for a pulsed plasma thruster, while still allowing for higher thrust levels than conventional micro pulsed plasma thrusters. The thruster utilizes multiple channels in a grid configuration with multiple ignition pins to spread erosion over a larger surface area to increase ignition lifetime in a small form factor. The thruster is made with low cost and easy to find materials such as oxygen-free copper plate, Teflon sheet, 316 stainless steel hardware, and PEEK hardware.
Like the first prototype thruster developed at Applied Ion Systems, the AIS-uPPT1 Micro Pulsed Plasma Thruster, the AIS-gPPT1 aims to create a simple, low-cost, minimal-machining propulsion solution for low-funded satellite groups and initiatives. The AIS-gPPT1 also lends itself for potentially scaling to larger sized thrusters, and efforts will be made to explore both miniaturized and expanded gridded pulsed plasma topologies for a wide range of small satellite form-factors.
The AIS-gPPT1 thruster will serve as the basis for further revisions to the AIS-gPPT line of pulsed plasma thrusters. The initial prototype concept will be tested for ignition and lifetime. Once these parameters are established, Phase 2 of the development can begin by integrating full and miniaturized charging and ignition circuitry directly into the thruster form-factor, keeping the overall thruster footprint and depth minimal for integration with PocketQube satellites.
- Thruster Type: Micro Gridded Pulsed Plasma Thruster
- Fuel: Teflon
- Configuration: Flat Stacked Plate with Multi-Channels
- Electrode Material: Oxygen-Free Copper
- Primary Capacitor: 1 uF
- Tested Primary Working Voltage: 1 kV
- Tested Ignition Voltage: >5 kV
- Testing Level: Phase I – Ignition Testing
- Status: OBSOLETE