Our JPL MarCO CubeSat propulsion system is featured in a video by Chemical & Engineering News. The video discusses the role of CubeSats in the NASA Mars Insight mission scheduled for May 2018 and how they can pave the way for future interplanetary CubeSat missions. The Insight mission is highly anticipated because it will be the first interplanetary deployment of a CubeSat. The Mars Cube One (or MarCO) CubeSat will relay engineering data from the Insight lander as it travels to the surface of Mars.
The JPL MarCO CubeSat propulsion system utilized by MarCO is self-contained with propellant storage, thrusters, feed system and a controller – sensor suite. It uses R-236FA as the propellant. Its wet mass is 3,490 grams and it has 755 N-Sec Total Impulse. The propulsion system is made from all-welded aluminum and is sufficiently versatile to be suitable for many 6U CubeSat designs. Learn more about the electrical schematic and features.
The Mars Insight mission is promising because it will open the door to greater use of CubeSats for risky interplanetary missions such as studying volcanoes in the IO moon of Jupiter. Additionally, CubeSats are more cost effective than traditional satellites that weigh several tons and cost billions of dollars to deploy. Specifically, the MarCO CubeSat weighs about 10 kg and has a deployment cost of approximately $10 million. Due to their small size, CubeSats can only accommodate 1 or 2 instruments but this limitation can be overcome by deploying several CubeSats.
VACCO provides a wide range of cold gas, warm gas and monopropellant CubeSat propulsion systems. These systems have supported AFRL, NRO, NASA and commercial flight applications. Contact our engineers to learn how our propulsion modules can meet your needs.
Video Source: Chemical & Engineering News