Session

Swifty Session 1: Assembly, Integration & Test

Location

Utah State University, Logan, UT

Abstract

Technological advancements in chemical propulsion systems leading to increased interest and new applications for small satellites in recent years has created a need for additional testing resources and targeted workforce development. Generally, chemical propulsion testing requires interactions with hazardous materials and environments, which presents significant challenges in a university setting. The Center for Aerospace Exploration and Technology Research (cSETR) at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) has developed a sustainable hot-fire testing program for chemical thrusters that is operated by undergraduate and graduate students. The program is managed analogous to testing programs in professional settings to enable reliable test results, ensure safety of all participants, and provide appropriate training to student engineers.

The day-to-day activities of the test program are managed entirely by the student team. A flow-down mentoring approach is used where graduate students with years of experience in the lab train new students joining the program. Tests are planned and executed using standard industry practices, including approved testing procedures, assigned participant roles, and test readiness reviews. The use of a standardized and systematic approach enhances the repeatability and validity of each test. Safety management is achieved using readily-available, low cost resources to maintain operation within a standard University budget. This program is presented as a working example for other University groups looking to establish or improve in-house chemical testing methods to enable expanded hot-fire chemical propulsion testing capabilities and workforce development.

Available for download on Saturday, August 07, 2021

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Aug 7th, 12:00 AM

Hot-Fire Testing Approach at University Level

Utah State University, Logan, UT

Technological advancements in chemical propulsion systems leading to increased interest and new applications for small satellites in recent years has created a need for additional testing resources and targeted workforce development. Generally, chemical propulsion testing requires interactions with hazardous materials and environments, which presents significant challenges in a university setting. The Center for Aerospace Exploration and Technology Research (cSETR) at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) has developed a sustainable hot-fire testing program for chemical thrusters that is operated by undergraduate and graduate students. The program is managed analogous to testing programs in professional settings to enable reliable test results, ensure safety of all participants, and provide appropriate training to student engineers.

The day-to-day activities of the test program are managed entirely by the student team. A flow-down mentoring approach is used where graduate students with years of experience in the lab train new students joining the program. Tests are planned and executed using standard industry practices, including approved testing procedures, assigned participant roles, and test readiness reviews. The use of a standardized and systematic approach enhances the repeatability and validity of each test. Safety management is achieved using readily-available, low cost resources to maintain operation within a standard University budget. This program is presented as a working example for other University groups looking to establish or improve in-house chemical testing methods to enable expanded hot-fire chemical propulsion testing capabilities and workforce development.