Small Satellite Propulsion

Small satellites (smallsats) are a multi-billion dollar industry with multiple uses including global internet constellations. Ever wonder what kind of propulsion system allows them to maneuver in Lower Earth Orbit? Justin Little, Assistant Professor at the UW’s William E. Boeing Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics, is working to develop smallsats green propulsion technology. The smallsats industry is looking for alternatives to chemical propellants such as hydrazine due to corrosion and toxicity issues. Dr. Little’s current JCATI funded project focuses on electric thruster modules with water as the propellant.  This technology could decrease thruster size and manufacturing expense, increasing design options for this rapidly growing industry.

For more information on the Dr. Little’s propulsion research visit the Space Propulsion and Concepts Engineering Lab (SPACE) Lab website.