Thermo-Mechanical Structural Optimization of a Chemical Propulsion Satellite Thruster Using Lattice Structures

  • Valvano, Stefano (University of Derby)
  • Maligno, Angelo (University of Derby)

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The development of small thrusters for satellite applications is a trend topic from many decades. A technology development program at NASA Lewis Research Center has been conducted since 1985 to develop high temperature oxidation-resistant thrusters for spacecraft applications [1]. The successful development of this technology could be considered as the basis for the design of higher performance satellite engines with reduced plume contamination. Alternatively, this technology program could provide a material with high thermal margin to operate at conventional temperatures and provide increased life for reusable spacecraft. Considering the development of high temperature thrusters for spacecraft applications in the modern studies of green propellants and the green economy [2], it would be desirable to investigate new optimized structures in order to reduce the thruster weight and at the same time increase the thruster working life [3]. In this work the thermal-stress analysis of small space thrusters has been conducted at different temperature scenarios and with different heat flux histories. The material properties, the application of lattice structures and possible multi-layered stacking sequence design have been investigated [4]. Metallic and ceramic materials with variable stiffness distribution have been taken into account. Possible design solutions are given depending on the mission requirements and the structural boundaries. Some results are presented for different structural solutions. REFERENCES [1] Schneider, S.J. High temperature thruster technology for spacecraft propulsion. Acta Astronautica, 28, 115-125 (1992). [2] Jing, L., You, X., Huo, J., Zhu, M., and Yao, Z. Experimental and numerical studies of ammonium dinitramide based liquid propellant combustion in space thruster. Aerospace Science and Technology, 69, 161-170 (2017). [3] Blakey-Milner, B. et al. Metal additive manufacturing in aerospace: A review. Materials & Design, 209, 110008 (2021). [4] Alaimo, A., Marino, F., and Valvano, S. BCC lattice cell structural characterization. Reports in Mechanical Engineering, 2(1), 77-85 (2021).