Development and Testing of a 3-D-Printed Cold Gas Thruster for an Interplanetary CubeSat
Lightsey, E. Glenn
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This paper describes the development and testing of a cold gas attitude control thruster produced for the BioSentinel spacecraft, a CubeSat that will operate beyond Earth orbit. The thruster will reduce the spacecraft rotational velocity after deployment, and for the remainder of the mission it will periodically unload momentum from the reaction wheels. The majority of the thruster is a single piece of 3-D-printed additive material which incorporates the propellant tanks, feed pipes, and nozzles. Combining these elements allows for more efficient use of the available volume and reduces the potential for leaks. The system uses a high-density commercial refrigerant as the propellant, due to its high volumetric impulse efficiency, as well as low toxicity and low storage pressure. Two engineering development units and one flight unit have been produced for the BioSentinel mission. The design, development, and test campaign for the thruster system is presented.