Congratulations to Peter Wright for being awarded the NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship!


Peter was awarded the NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship for his proposal on "High Specific Impulse Electrospray Propulsion for High Delta-V Deep Space Missions". Below is an excerpt from the NASA website.

"As the interest in CubeSats has increased since their inception in the 1990s, so has the breadth and depth of space missions based on the CubeSat technology. Often these missions require a low-cost propulsion system that fits into the small form-factor that defines CubeSats. These missions require simple, high performing and highly reliable propulsion system to meet performance requirements. Unlike many other types of spacecraft thrusters, electrospray devices can be successful in a variety of propulsion applications. Due to their small size and flexible form factor, a result of using a low or unpressurized propellant reservoir, they are highly capable for primary propulsion, attitude control and formation flying.

This project will increase the lifetime and overall robustness of electrospray thrusters to make them applicable for even the most ambitious of space missions for which they have been envisioned. For my research, I propose to investigate thoroughly each of the thruster failure mechanisms associated with High specific impulse operation, and incorporate the lessons learned from each mechanism into a single thruster system to achieve long operational lifetime.

After thoroughly investigating each electrospray thruster failure mechanism associated with high specific impulse operation, such as emitter degradation, propellant accumulation, overspray, electrochemical degradation and arc discharge, an electrospray thruster will be developed that incorporates lessons learned from these investigations to maximize lifetime. The resulting thruster will be capable of at least 1500s specific impulse and over 500 hours thruster lifetime.

Emitter development will focus on following well documented approaches to emitter development as well as leveraging experience and experimental apparatus developed from concurrent electrospray projects. After the development of a long lifetime electrospray emitter, a plan for increasing the thrust to 100uN through a multiplexed thruster design will be investigated. A high specific impulse, long lifetime electrospray thruster with this level of thrust will be relevant to the small spacecraft industry in addition to various NASA missions including New Frontiers, Discovery and suborbital research."
NASA Press Release