The AIS-EPPT1 Pulsed Plasma Thruster an experimental pulsed plasma thruster design aimed at low-cost, easy to manufacture, and simplified propulsion for Cubesats and PocketQubes. This system takes lessons learned from the original AIS-gPPT3-1C Integrated Propulsion Module and further expands its capabilities to attempt to increase fuel capacity, improve ignition, performance, and ultimately lower PPT cost and simplify manufacturing. The highly compact thruster is small enough for integration with PocketQubes, and can be implemented as a single thruster, cluster, or attitude control for Cubesats.
The thruster module features an incredibly compact form factor, with a starting PQ module board footprint of 45mm x 45mm. The thruster also features a spring loaded Teflon fuel block, with electrodes, igniter, and mounting embedded in an extremely low-cost, custom 3D printed housing using high durability, performance, high-temperature aerospace-grade Ultem 1010.
The primary integrated module is centered around a 1.6W Pico Electronics HV power module, allowing for a highly compact package compatible with PocketQube-class satellites. The basic PQ module can be used on Cubesats for attitude control, and for higher performance main propulsion, can be substituted with a higher power and higher capacity Cubesat power module. Interfacing is very easy, requiring only 5V, GND, and logic level trigger commands for ignition. The system also includes readouts for the primary and ignition banks for feedback and monitoring of the system during operation.
Due to it’s simplified and low-cost design, the EPPT1 series can be highly customized, with a variety of off-the-shelf polypropylene film capacitors and easily extended housing to accommodate any length of fuel capacity.
UPDATE: AS OF 10/19/2020, THE AIS-EPPT1 MICRO PULSED PLASMA THRUSTER IS OFFICIALLY OBSOLETE, AND DEVELOPMENTS CLOSED FOR THE THRUSTER. NEW DESIGNS ARE IN THE WORKS FOR THE NEXT GENERATION OF PULSED PLASMA THRUSTERS AT AIS.
- Thruster Type: Sub-Joule Micro Pulsed Plasma Thruster
- Fuel: Teflon
- Max Power Draw: 1.6W
- Primary Capacitor Bank: 0.1uF
- Primary Bank Working Voltage: 1-1.4kV
- Thruster Energy: 0.1J
- Ignition Voltage: –10kV
- Pulse Repetition Rate: 2Hz max
- Size: 45mm x 45mm x 25mm
- Total Thruster Mass (Teflon): 57 grams
- Vacuum Levels Tested: 1×10^-5 Torr
- Test Readiness Level (TRL): 5
- Status: OBSOLETE
ENGINEERING TEST REPORTS
VACUUM TEST PLATFORM
- 02/25/2020 – AIS-ePPT1 concept design CAD render revealed
- 02/26/2020 – Cross sectional view of the ePPT1 thruster assembly revealed
- 07/11/2020 – V1 PCB design completed and revealed
- 07/24/2020 – V1 boards arrived from OSHPark
- 07/31/2020 – 3D printed Utem 1010 thruster housings arrived
- 09/04/2020 – 1.5kv Pico supply arrived
- 09/10/2020 – Preliminary assembly of the ePPT1
- 09/11/2020 – Final assembly of the AIS-ePPT1 V1 Version A thruster
- 09/13/2020 – First ignition test of the AIS-ePPT1 V1 thruster
- 09/14/2020 – Video released of the first ignition test
- 09/22/2020 – Modifications for the EPPT1 are complete for the second ignition test, set up for anode-side triggering. Second ignition test of the EPPT1 conducted
- 09/23/2020 – Video released of the second ignition test
- 10/06/2020 – New CAD models revealed for the V2 housing of the EPPT1 with reduced electrode spacing and improved discharge chamber geometry
- 10/12/2020 – New 3D printed Ultem 1010 V2 housing arrived
- 10/17/2020 – Modifications complete for the V2 thruster
- 10/18/2020 – Third ignition test of the EPPT1 thruster completed
- 10/19/2020 – AIS-EPPT1 THRUSTER DEVELOPMENTS HAVE OFFICIALLY BEEN CLOSED, AND THE EPPT1 DECLARED OBSOLETE.