Closed-Loop Thrust Control for Micropropulsion Systems

Stefano Silvestrini, Marsil A. C. Silva, Angelo Cervone

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The growing needs of nano- and pico-satellite missions require several enhancements in micropropulsion capabilities to enable the satellites to perform an increasing variety of orbital maneuvers. This paper presents the design and the implementation of a closed-loop control system for thrust magnitude regulation in micro-resistojets. This is achieved by controlling the propellant mass flow in the microvalve of the feeding system which is designed to make extensive use of off-the-shelf components. The Vaporizing Liquid Micro-resistojet (VLM) is one of the micro-thrusters under development at TU Delft and, for this reason, it is selected for performing the tests. In order to develop appropriate controllers, a non-linear state-space model of the microvalve system is developed analytically and integrated with the analytical model of the complete system. The performance of the analytical model is compared to a multi-domain analysis done with finite element method (FEM) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD). The controllers are designed and tested using the models developed. Finally, the closed-loop control system is implemented in the preliminary hardware design of the micropropulsion system, achieving a resolution of 10 μN in the range of 0-800 μN.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC), Adelaide, Australia, 25-29 September 2017
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event68th International Astronautical Congress: Unlocking Imagination, Fostering Innovation and Strengthening Security, IAC 2017: Unlocking Imagination, Fostering Innovation and Strengthening Security - Adelaide, Australia
Duration: 25 Sep 201729 Sep 2017
Conference number: 68


Conference68th International Astronautical Congress: Unlocking Imagination, Fostering Innovation and Strengthening Security, IAC 2017
Abbreviated titleIAC 2017
Internet address


  • thrust
  • control
  • microvalve
  • VLM
  • micro-propulsion

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