Date of Award:

2013

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Engineering and Technology Education

Advisor/Chair:

Stephen A Whitmore

Abstract

The Multiple Use Plug Hybrid for Nanosats (MUPHyN) prototype thruster incorporates solutions to several major challenges that have traditionally limited the deployment of chemical propulsion systems on small spacecraft. The MUPHyN thruster offers several features that are uniquely suited for small satellite applications. These features include 1) a non-explosive ignition system, 2) non-mechanical thrust vectoring using secondary fluid injection on an aerospike nozzle cooled with the oxidizer flow, 3) a non-toxic, chemically-stable combination of liquid and inert solid propellants, 4) a compact form factor enabled by the direct digital manufacture of the inert solid fuel grain. Hybrid rocket motors provide significant safety and reliability advantages over both solid composite and liquid propulsion systems; however, hybrid motors have found only limited use on operational vehicles due to 1) difficulty in modeling the fuel flow rate 2) poor volumetric efficiency and/or form factor 3) significantly lower fuel flow rates than solid rocket motors 4) difficulty in obtaining high combustion efficiencies. The features of the MUPHyN thruster are designed to offset and/or overcome these shortcomings. The MUPHyN motor design represents a convergence of technologies, including hybrid rocket regression rate modeling, aerospike secondary injection thrust vectoring, multiphase injector modeling, non-pyrotechnic ignition, and nitrous oxide regenerative cooling that address the traditional challenges that limit the use of hybrid rocket motors and aerospike nozzles. This synthesis of technologies is unique to the MUPHyN thruster design and no comparable work has been published in the open literature.

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