Investigation of innovative thrust-vector control techniques for micro propulsion systems

M. de Athayde Costa e Silva, D Cordeiro Guerrieri, A Cervone

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


The use of propulsion systems in micro and nano satellites has gained increasing attention due to its potential to improve the performance related to mission lifetime and mission capabilities. However, the size, mass, and power constraints of these types of satellites set a great challenge for developing micro propulsion systems and there are still some developments do be done in order to give them other functionalities present in a full scale system, such as thrust-vector control, which may significantly improve the functionality of the satellite by allowing the execution of attitude maneuvers, but also orbital maneuvers for applications such as station keeping, orbit transfers or even deep space missions. These capabilities are required in a wide range of missions such as formation flying, removal of space debris, or de-orbiting. In this paper, a new design concept is investigated for a micro resistojet that includes the capability of controlling the thrust-vector direction. The innovative technique involves the use of only one thruster and no moving parts that are two important key features to be considered for keeping a good reliability and low complexity. One of the proposed concepts consists of actively using an electric field to steer the propellant flow in the nozzle exit. Numerical simulations are performed to assess and validate the concept in terms of thrust, specific impulse, and propellant consumption and also to characterize its relation between applied potential and angular deviation in the thrust-vector. The proposed approach is also compared to other two approaches that involve moveable parts. Results demonstrate that the concepts are able to achieve a reasonable degree of deflection considering the requirements proposed for the system.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 66th international astronautical congress
EditorsI Patel, S Ramirez
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Publication series



Dive into the research topics of 'Investigation of innovative thrust-vector control techniques for micro propulsion systems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this