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Plasma Jet Pack Plasma Jet Pack

The removal of in-orbit constraints (small impulse bit, no preheating, large total impulse) will pave the way to new propulsion module applications, in addition to the classical ones, and consequently to new satellite missions such as in-flight formation, electric propulsion pointing, continuous accurate attitude control.


The consortium aims at achieving the validation (qualification level) and commercialisation of this propulsion module technology at the end of the project. The team consists in experts from space propulsion, space hardware development and vacuum arc physics. During this project, it is planned to develop and validate building blocks for a family of products which will have increasing performances in thrust, total impulse and specific impulse.


After analysing requirements and potential impacts, the first part of the project will be dedicated to the development and qualification of building blocks: Arc Discharge Chamber (ADC), Plasma Generator Unit (PGU), Power Propulsion Supply and Control Unit (PPSCU).
A second part of the project will focus on the PJP0-30 with a full development through an Electrical Model and a Qualification Model. This development will largely rely on technology building blocks.


The project includes a validation flight and a series of tests of the qualification model. Thanks to all the activities performed along the project, the Plasma Jet Pack will be ready to start its commercialisation phase at the beginning of 2023.

• Plasma Jet Pack 0-150W
After requirements and potential impact analysis, the first part of the project will be dedicated to building blocks development and qualification : Arc Discharge Chamber (ADC), Plasma Generator Unit (PGU), Power Propulsion Supply and Control Unit (PPSCU).
A second part of the project will be focus on the PJP0-30 with a full development through an Electrical Model and a Qualification Model. This development will largely rely on technology building blocks.
The qualification model will be tested in order to be ready to start the commercialisation phase at the beginning of 2023. Moreover a validation flight is planned during this project at the mid of 2021

  • Orbit rising
  • Station keeping
  • Orbital transfer
  • De-orbiting & re-entry
  • In-flight formation
  • Docking
  • In-flight inspection.
On demand, PJP ejects high speed neutral metallic plasma in space, and consequently, transfers momentum to the satellite. Depending on the thrust level needed, the pulse frequency can vary from 0 to f_max.

The vacuum arc thruster (VAT) physics allows eroding solid metal propellant thanks to an electrical discharge in vacuum between two electrodes: the cathode (solid propellant) and the anode (passive electrode). The PJP is classified in the pulsed electromagnetic thruster’s category. The PJP uses capacitive storage: capacitors banks are connected to the terminals of the electrodes and are waiting for the High Voltage Trigger System (HVTS) to begin the main discharge. Because the vacuum is an electrical insulator, the role of the HVTS is to provide matter in the inter-electrodes region in order to ignite the arc in vacuum at lower voltage between electrodes. Therefore, the frequency of the plasma pulses is the frequency of the HVTS.

Finally, by triggering a discharge between two electrodes, the vacuum arc physics enables sublimation, ionization and acceleration of neutral plasma from solid metallic propellant. The PJP does not have the disadvantages of other gas-fed technologies (storage tank, valves, flow control valves, piping, grid erosion, neutralizer, etc.) but has the main advantage to get solid propellant with high specific impulse. This technology offers high total impulse in a very small volume without any pre-heating process or safety integration constraints.

The PJP is at TRL 4 and the goal of the H2020 project is to upgrade it to TRL 7.

e. CNRS (including ICARE and LAPLACE laboratories), PlasmaSolve and the Universität des Bundeswehr of Munich (UBM). The main remaining challenges in order to commercialize the first product are the following ones:

  • Increase the thrust-to-power ratio
  • Perform life duration  characterisation
  • Improve the robustness of the High Voltage Triggering System – HVTS.

 

The technical work was planned with all partners and it was decided that the next six months will be dedicated to a bibliographic sharing on the physics of vacuum arc and magnetic nozzle effect. The second part of the project will be dedicated to experimental characterization and numerical simulations.

 

During the first period, COMAT has committed to produce 3 “experimental thrusters” for the ICARE, LAPLACE and UBM laboratories. These thrusters were designed collaboratively, taking into account the requirements of all partners relative to their plasma tools and probes. These experimental thrusters will enable to explore the physics of the vacuum arc and the effect of a magnetic field applied to the discharge.

 

The main objectives are to fully characterize the plasma parameters (ion charge, ionisation level, electron temperature, ion velocity, etc.) and understand the influence of magnetic field on the plasma plume and performances (thrust, specific impulse, focalization). These results will feed the PlasmaSolve company in charge of the numerical simulation of the plasma plume expansion.

 

At the end of the project, all these technical data can be used as a basis for a predictive model enabling COMAT to optimize the design of the first PJP product.

partners / contact

COMAT

[ COMAT ]

France

Luc HERRERO

Luc HERRERO

OHB SWEDEN AB

[ OHB SWEDEN AB ]

Sweden

Ashley Hallock

Ashley Hallock

CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE CNRS

[ CNRS ]

France

Stéphane MAZOUFFRE

Stéphane MAZOUFFRE

UNIVERSITAET DER BUNDESWEHR MUENCHEN

[ MUNICH UNI ]

Germany

Jochen SCHEIN

Jochen SCHEIN

THALES ALENIA SPACE FRANCE SAS

[ TASF ]

France

Philippe LAMOTTE

Philippe LAMOTTE

PLASMASOLVE SRO

[ PlasmaSolve ]

Czechia

Adam OBRUSNIK

Adam OBRUSNIK

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870444.
Disclaimer: This website reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. 

maps_photo.jpg

graph - chart

Start 01/01/2020
50% 14/06/2021
End 31/12/2022
Budget allocation . M€ Budget allocation
Effort 182 p*m Effort
Effort 5 persons Full time equivalent

news

March 2021 - Work in progress

2021-04-05

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February 2021 - Work in progress

2021-03-02

Featuring in February: Comat, the Bundeswehr University of Munich, and CNRS Icare. Download our Newsletter...

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January 2021 - Work in progress

2021-01-29

Featuring in January: Comat and CNRS Icare. Download our Newsletter!

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December 2020 - Work in progress

2021-01-04

Download our December Newsletter!


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November 2020 - Work in progress

2020-12-02

Featuring in November: Comat, CNRS Icare & Laplace. Download our Newsletter!

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October 2020 - Work in progress

2020-11-02

Featuring in October: Comat and PlasmaSolve. Download our Newsletter!

Plasma plume density

 

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September 2020 - Work in progress

2020-10-01

Featuring in September: Comat and CNRS Icare. Download our September News...

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August 2020 - Work in progress

2020-09-01

Featuring in August: Comat, CNRS (Laplace and Icare), and the Bundeswehr University of Munich. Download our News...

 

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July 2020 - Work in progress

2020-07-31

In July, new magnet designs have been tested and a special configuration of ring magnet led to a 35% thrust-to-power increase. The propul...

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June 2020 - Work in progress

2020-06-30

All technical partners received the H2020 breadboard model and began to take it over. The PJP has already been set in a vacuum chamber at...

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May 2020 - Work in progress

2020-05-31

The PJP H2020 breadboard models have successfully passed functional tests and will be delivered in early June.

Thrust measur...

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April 2020 - Work in progress

2020-04-30

COMAT received the mechanical parts of the experimental thrusters! Despite the Covid-19 lock-down, the electronics are being manuf...

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March 2020 - Work in progress

2020-03-31

The COVID-19 health crisis put an end to the COMAT tests campaign but the propulsion team continued to work in teleworking.

A consi...

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February 2020 - Work in progress

2020-02-28

COMAT develops and manufactures a dedicated ion flux probe in collaboration with the Laplace laboratory (CNRS). This ion pr...

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PJP characteristics

2020-01-31

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January 2020 - Work in progress

2020-01-31

COMAT’s propulsion team begins the first life test in the PJP history! They let the PJP run at 3Hz (14W) and wait for a failure. View more

PJP Project Teams

2020-01-31

Have a look at attached files to meet each PJP Partner's team!

 

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PJP Project - 1st Technical Meeting

2020-01-16

The 1st Technical Meeting of the PJP Project was held in Toulouse (France) and hosted by the Project Coordinator (COMAT) on January 16, 2...

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PJP Project - Kick-off Meeting

2020-01-15

The KoM of the PJP project was held at COMAT's premises in Flourens, near Toulouse (France), on January 15, 2020. The COMAT SME is th...

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Press release: Electric thruster for smallsat...

2020-01-02

Successful Horizon 2020 project selected by the European Commission for COMAT and its partners, for the development of an electric thrust...

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events

2021-03-19

Watch Comat's presentation at Space Propulsion 2020+1

Luc Herrero (Comat) presents "PJP Technology Review" at the Space Propulsion 2020+1 conference (on-line).
Watch his presentation at 3:20 PM on Friday March, 19, 2021.

https://spacepropulsion2020.com/

2021-03-05

5th ESA CubeSat Industry Days

COMAT, PJP project coordinator, will take part in this on-line event to be held on June 1-3, 2021.

https://atpi.eventsair.com/QuickEventWebsitePortal/5thcubesatindustrydays/website

2021-02-25

2nd Workshop on Propulsion4CubeSats

COMAT, PJP project coordinator, takes part in this on-line event to be held on April 28-29, 2021.

https://atpi.eventsair.com/propulsion4cubesats/

2021-02-25

SPACE PROPULSION 2020+1

COMAT, PJP project coordinator, takes part in this on-line event to be held on March 17-19, 2021.

https://spacepropulsion2020.com/

2020-12-06

47th International Conference on Plasma Science

The PJP Partner Bundeswehr University of Munich takes part in this event, to be held in Singapore, December 6-10, 2020:

http://icops2020.org/public.asp?page=home.html

2020-10-05

Space Propulsion Conference

COMAT, PJP project coordinator, takes part in this event to be held on October 5-9 2020, in Estoril, Portugal:

https://spacepropulsion2020.com/

2020-08-01

34th Annual Small Satellite Conference

COMAT, PJP project coordinator, takes part in this  on-line event, initially to be held on August 1-6, 2020, in Logan, USA:

https://smallsat.org/

2020-06-22

International Conference/Workshop on Micropropulsion and CubeSats

COMAT, PJP project coordinator, takes part in this event to be held on June 22-24, 2020, in Toulouse, France - CANCELLED (Covid pandemics).

https://www.micropropulsion.org/mpcs-v-france-2020

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