Cubesat Propulsion Systems Overview

VACCO Industries provides a variety of high-performance cold gas, warm gas and green monopropellant systems for CubeSat platforms. To date, fourteen flight MiPS have been produced to support AFRL, NRO, NASA and commercial flight applications, including support for the JPL MarCO CubeSat program.

High-Performance CubeSat And NanoSat Propulsion Systems & Modules

VACCO Industries manufactures a wide range of high-performance CubeSat and NanoSat propulsion systems and modules to meet customer needs. Numerous flight systems have been delivered to customers for a variety of missions and programs.

Cold Gas CubeSat Propulsion: Delta-V And CubeSat Attitude Control

VACCO has designed and developed a wide selection of cold gas propulsion modules with thrust levels greater than 50mN per thruster and total impulses from 23 N-s to over 700 N-s. The cold gas propulsion systems are coveted for their low cost propellant, ease of installation and simplicity of use. This low risk approach was chosen for the first interplanetary CubeSat propulsion module.

Warm Gas CubeSat Propulsion: Higher Performance From 0.14 To >1U

Our warm gas propulsion systems come in an array of sizes from 0.14U to 1U or greater. A corona-based heating system increases propellant temperature and corresponding Isp to 70s. The power consumption of the warm gas systems can be tuned above or below the current design of 15 Watts depending on customer needs. Total impulse is around 600 N-s for a 1U warm gas propulsion system.

Green Mono Propellant (AF-M315E, ADN And HAN): Fully Integrated Hot Gas Thruster For 3U, 6U CubeSats And Larger CubeSats

The Green Mono Propellant modules utilize ADN or AF-M315E as the mono-propellant to provide a complete hot gas CubeSat propulsion system with Isp of 200s or higher. Thrust levels of 50 mN to 1N are achievable and the 1N ADN thruster has already operated successfully on orbit. Two versions are currently available, one uses four hot gas thrusters to provide digital proportional control for thrust vectoring during a delta-v maneuver. The other version uses four cold gas thrusters around one hot gas thruster. The four cold gas thrusters provide altitude control or reaction wheel desaturation.

Electric Propulsion System Parts For CubeSats

VACCO also provides an array of additional components or complete feed systems for customers developing CubeSat electric propulsion modules including: Hall, RF and Iodine thrusters as well as CubeSat ion propulsion systems.

CubeSat Propulsion System Size (U) End/Cener Mount Propellants Thruster type Thrusters Nominal Thrust (mN) Total Impulse (N-s)
PUC 0.14U-1U End R236FA/ SO2 Warm Gas 1 5.4 595
CPOD 1U Center R134a/ R236FA Cold Gas 8 25 186
MarCO 2U End R236FA Cold Gas 8 50 755
Green Mono Prop System 0.5-1U+ End ADN/AF-M315E Mono-Prop 4 400 1808
End mounted standard 0.25-1U End R134a/ R236FA Cold Gas 5 10 312
Hybrid Green Monoprop 0.5-1U+ End ADN/AF-M315E Mono-Prop 1 Hot, 4 Cold 100 1036
Standard 0.3-1U End R134a/ R236FA Cold Gas 5 10 250
MEPSI 0.25U End Isobutane Cold Gas 5 53 23
Palomar 1U Center Isobutane Cold Gas 8 35 85

Below are links to more information on several of our CubeSat propulsion system designs.