Dual Chemical-Electric Propulsion Systems Design for Interplanetary CubeSats

Karthik Venkatesh Mani, Francesco Topputo, Angelo Cervone

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

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Interplanetary CubeSats enable universities and smallspacecraft- consortia to pursue low-cost, high-risk and highgain Solar System Exploration missions, especially Mars; for which cost-effective, reliable, and flexible space systems need to be developed. Missions to Mars can be achieved through a) in-situ deployment by a mothership and b) highly flexible stand-alone CubeSats on deep-space cruise. The current work focuses on sizing and establishing critical design parameters for dual chemical-electric propulsion systems that shall enable a stand-alone 16U CubeSat mission on a hybrid high-thrust & low-thrust trajectory. High thrust is used to escape Earth whereas low-thrust is used in autonomous deep-space cruise, achieving ballistic capture, and emplacement on an areosynchronous orbit at Mars. Chemical propulsion characterisation is based on V requirement and a heuristic optimisation of thrust, specific impulse and burn time while balancing transfer time and propellant mass. Limitations are set to minimise destabilising momentum. Electric propulsion characterisation is based on the V, power consumption, and trajectory requirements for fueloptimal and time-optimal strategies. The sizes amount to 16% and 21% of the assumed total mass ( 30 kg) for chemical and electric systems, respectively.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationESA Space Propulsion 2018 Conference, Seville, Spain
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventESA Space Propulsion 2018 Conference - Seville, Spain
Duration: 14 May 201818 May 2018
Conference number: 20


ConferenceESA Space Propulsion 2018 Conference
Abbreviated titleSpace Propulsion 2018
Internet address


  • Interplanetary CubeSat Propulsion

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