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Lab-on-PCB for space Propulsion

with Jeongrak Lee, Seonghyeon Kim, Hanseong Jo, Eunji Lee

Graphical abstract.png

The demand for microthrusters is growing with the increasing utilization of nano/microsatellite platforms in the space industry. Solid propellant microthruster arrays hold great promise for commercial applications due to their lightweight nature and optimization. However, significant challenges exist in scaling up and mass-producing traditional microthrusters, hindering their commercialization. In this paper, we propose a novel concept of a solid propellant micro thruster array and present its fabrication process using lab-on-printed-circuit-board (PCB) technology, along with feasibility studies. All constituent layers of the thruster are fabricated using a commercially available PCB, and the assembly process is conducted using standard PCB surface mount technology. The microthruster array manufactured using this technique exhibits high structural stability due to the robust physical characteristics of its components. Furthermore, the technique can be upscaled and enables cost-effective mass production of components. The ignition characteristics and propulsion performance of the microthruster array are validated through ignition and combustion experiments. A fully functional lab-on-PCB microthruster enables the fundamental integration of electronic control and propulsion systems in a satellite, offering exciting possibilities for future satellite missions.

Related publications:

  • Jeongrak Lee, Seonghyeon Kim, Hanseong Jo, Eunji Lee, and Anna Lee*, "Design and Fabrication of a Scalable Solid-Propellant Micro-Thruster Array Using Lab-on-PCB Technology," Sensors and Actuators: A. Physical 363, 114738 (2023).

  • Jeongrak Lee, Hanseong Jo, Seonghyeon Kim, Eunji Lee, Youngbin Son and Anna Lee*, "Lab-on-PCB for space Propulsion: New Concept of Membraneless Micro-ignitor for MEMS Solid Propellant Thruster," Sensors and Actuators: A. Physical 363, 114696 (2023).

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