Cold Gas Thrusters (Aeolos Series)

Recent years have witnessed a tremendous increase in interest in small Satellites among the space community including space agencies, industry and academia. To date, small satellites like CubeSats have been utilized only for near earth missions, however, a few far Earth and interplanetary missions (INSPIRE and MarCO) have also been proposed. A propulsion system is the primary mobility system of a spacecraft and helps with various maneuvering operations like orbit changing, orientation of the sat, station keeping or deorbiting after the system has reached the end of its lifetime.
One of the propulsion systems broadly used on small satellites are so called cold gas thrusters. The used propellant is a compressed gas (Like N2 or He) or a liquid at a saturated state with a certain vapor pressure (Like N2O, Propane, CO2 etc). This gas is then expanded through a nozzle, producing thrust. Cold gas thrusters are lightweight, simple and therefore reliable and do not contaminate optics or solar cells used by the satellite. For small satellites it is very important that one can produce very short impulses of thrust (so called minimum impulse bit). Here comes our solution with very fast acting cold gas thrusters.

We herewith introduce the Aeolos product family of cold gas thrusters. Aeolos ist the Greek god of the winds (that’s what our thrusters will produce 😉 )


200 mN Thruster with an extremely fast reaction time of 100 µs

The valve is integrated in a 3D printed housing made by selective laser melting SLM (Nowadays called PBF-LB/M)
The thruster assembly is tested in a vacuum chamber under space conditions sitting on a milli-Newton load cell

Features

  • Thrust 20 mN -200 mN (depending on input pressure and gas
  • Extremely durable valve seat made of Saphire and Ruby
  • Pressure up to 50 bar, therefore no need for pressure reducers when using CO2 or nitrous oxide
  • Pulsable up to 4000 Hz (reaction time ~ 1-200 µs)
  • Internal and external Leak rate: 1x10E-06 sccs GHe
  • Lifetime > 500 millions cycles
  • No warm up time
  • Low power (3W)
  • Lightweight: < 10 grams
  • No contamination of nearby optics or solar panels when using plain gases
  • precise, predictable, repeatable
  • ISP depends on the used gas
  • Compatible with H2, N2, He, N2O, Propane, Ethane, Coolants like LMP-103S and many more

To demonstrate the extreme fast actuation time we let the thruster play Johann Strauss’ “Blue Danube” (Blaue Donau) based on the opening music of Space odyssey 2001. Depending on the played tone it opens up to 2000 times a second fed by 20 bar Nitrogen. The solenoid is driven by a in-house developed micro controller board.


20 N Thruster (Under development)

20 N Cold Gas Thruster under development