The AIS-gPPT1 Gridded Pulsed Plasma Thruster represents a new 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.
UPDATE: AS OF 05/14/2019, THE EXPERIMENTAL AIS-GPPT1 IS NOW OBSOLETE.
- 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- Status: OBSOLETE
ENGINEERING TEST REPORTS
VACUUM TEST PLATFORM
- 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.