Document Type

Conference Paper

Journal/Book Title/Conference

AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum


Cincinatti, OH

Publication Date


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Last Page



The authors have collaborated with an industry partner to develop a prototype upper stage for a dedicated nano-launch vehicle. In addition to providing sufficient impulse for orbit insertion, the unique motor system also provides capability for multiple restarts; allowing operation as an orbital maneuvering thruster. The hybrid motor design uses 85%-90% hydrogen peroxide solution and 3-D printed ABS as propellants. In the original system design the peroxide catalyst bed was completely removed and a patented arc-ignition system thermally ignited the propellants. The thermal ignition system was effective but resulted in a combustion latency of approximately 1-second, reducing overall performance and allowing for significant variability in the delivered total impulse. This work investigates whether adding a small catalyst pack for ignition augmentation can eliminate or significantly reduce the observed ignition latency and improve overall system performance. The effectiveness of multiple catalytic minerals including potassium permanganate, manganese dioxide, manganese (III) oxide, and potassium nitrate were examined and compared to traditional noble-metal catalyst materials like silver or platinum. These alternative materials are significantly less expensive than noble metals. Catalytic activity test results, designs for an augmentation catbed integrated with the thermal ignition system, and preliminary unaugmented and augmented hot-fire test results are presented.