CubeSat Lunar Mission Using a Miniature Ion Thruster

TitleCubeSat Lunar Mission Using a Miniature Ion Thruster
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsConversano, Ryan W., and Richard E. Wirz
Conference Name47th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference & Exhibit
Date Published7/2011
Conference LocationSan Diego, CA, USA
ISBN Number9781618394576
Call NumberAIAA-2011-6083
KeywordsCubesat, Micropropulsion
AbstractThe feasibility of CubeSats utilizing the Miniature Xenon Ion (MiXI) thruster for lunar missions is the focus of this investigation. The successful heritage, simplicity, and low cost of CubeSats make them attractive candidates for scientific missions to the Moon. This investigation presents the first-order design process for developing a lunar mission CubeSat. The results from this process are then applied to a 3U CubeSat equipped with a MiXI thruster and specifically designed to reach the lunar surface from a low Earth orbit. The small, 3 cm diameter MiXI thruster utilized is capable of producing 0.1–1.553mN of thrust with a specific impulse of over 3000 s and is projected to be capable of generating over 7000 m/s of ∆V for a CubeSat mission. With all margins and contingencies considered, the total power required for the CubeSat using a 40 W ion thruster is approximately 92 W during daylight operations. With an assumed solar incidence angle of 45°, this power can be generated from a Spectrolab UTJ solar array of 0.35 sq. m. Thermal calculations show an average spacecraft surface temperature of approximately 59°C during daylight operations and 0°C during eclipse, which are within the operational and survivable temperature ranges of the spacecraft subsystems. A low-thrust trajectory model is utilized to calculate and plot Earth-Moon trajectories.

Download File (pdf)

This publication may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the authors and publisher.