Vacuum Arc Thruster Development and Testing for Micro and Nano Satellites


<p>This paper will describe the development of the Vacuum Arc thruster (VAT) for micro and nano satellites with the main purposes of: attitude control, maintaining orbit-satellite deorbiting. Firstly, this VAT thruster is integrated on-board student microsatellite Horyu-IV, which was developed at the Kyushu Institute of Technology (KIT), Japan. The satellite will be launched in the fiscal year 2015 by H2A rocket. This paper describes the principles of VAT as a direct drive from High Voltage Solar Array (HVSA). Expected performance of this vacuum arc thruster with passive ignition (space plasma condition) was measured. We propose a method for improving the thruster efficiency. Results show that the impulse bit was of the μNs order, and the thrust–56 nN– and efficiency– 2.5%–were calculated. Moreover, it was found that the impulse bit changes with the applied voltage. A new CFRP material was developed and used as a cathode for the purpose of improving efficiency. Discharge characteristics of current and the arc rate are presented. Measurements of impulse bit were also done for the VAT in configuration with two different propellants (commercial and new CFRP) and with a permanent magnet of 300 mT.</p>



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