The 13th SPS seeks abstracts on the full array of spacecraft propulsion technology interests including chemical propulsion, electric propulsion, micropropulsion, nuclear thermal propulsion, propellant management, aerocapture, solar sails, solar thermal propulsion, tether systems, in-space propulsion infrastructure, and technologies for the future. Possible applications to these technologies are orbit to orbit transfer, attitude control, non-terrestrial ascent/descent, station keeping, deep space, formation flying, drag makeup, and orbital rephasing. Please direct questions about the SPS mission areas to the JHU WSE ERG Technical Representative for SPS.

SPS Mission Areas

Areas of interest included in the Call for Papers are:

Mission Area I: Chemical Propulsion

Papers are invited that cover all areas of chemical propulsion including monopropellant, bipropellant, gel, solid, and hybrid chemical propulsion systems. Some current areas of interest include, but are not limited to, advanced propellant formulations and propulsion system developments for modern spacecraft and new missions.

Decreased toxicity monopropellant thruster technology development has been of primary interest for spacecraft applications in the last decade. Monopropellant technology is of critical importance to spacecraft operations and principally relies upon catalyst technology.

New propulsion system architecture approaches and technology demonstrations that are being pursued to reduce cost, expand capabilities, and enable new missions are also of significant interest. Also, reuse or modification of existing propulsion systems and components has been an ongoing and emerging area of development where publications are sought. This includes the reuse of heritage components and developments in reusable vehicles, systems, or components.

Increasing community knowledge of lessons learned and the relative impact of forthcoming technologies and approaches will support the transition and evolution of these propulsion approaches. Papers are solicited on the following topics of particular interest for sessions supporting spacecraft chemical propulsion:

Propellant Factors -

  • Propellant physical property characterization
  • Formulation, pre-cursor considerations, synthesis, and quality control measures
  • Propellant advantages, disadvantages and their impact to operations (ground and flight)
  • Propellant (decreased toxicity and state of the art) storage and management
  • Decomposition, kinetics, and combustion environment impact to materials and duty cycle
  • Impact of propellant impurities on performance including catalytic life
Thruster / Engine / Component Factors -
  • Impact of propellant impurities on delivered performance including catalytic and non-catalytic reactor performance and life
  • Injection technologies and concerns such as propellant atomization or dispersion, including impacts of non-volatile residue accumulation factors and irregular feed
  • Decomposition and ignition means for all areas of chemical propulsion including:
    • Development and performance of alternative catalysts, substrate, and active materials with respect to response and life limiting factors
    • Augmented catalytic and non-catalytic decomposition for monopropellants
  • Developments and issues in the reuse, modernization, and/or requalification of components
  • Integrated performance and operations including:
    • Duty and thermal cycle impacts to response, repeatability, and useful life
    • Relationship of propellant conditions, component design, and ignition factors
    • Relationship of propulsion system conditioning requirements by mission
    • Effectiveness in modeling variation of performance for system design and mission planning
System / Mission Factors -
  • Throttleable and pulsed system delivered performance including combustion stability effects
  • Propulsion system architecture considerations, configuration trades, and mission optimization
  • Propulsion system operations, diagnostics, and failure management
  • Operational condition concerns such as conditioning of propellants and testing of environments
  • Status, infusion viability, and impact of new propulsion technology and pathfinder activities

Mission Area II: Electric Propulsion

Papers are invited in all areas of electric propulsion (including solar- and nuclear -powered systems). Topics of interest include:

  • Basic Research and Development of Electric Propulsion Thrusters: This area includes physics of electric propulsion processes, thruster technology development, advanced and breakthrough concepts, high-power electric propulsion, hybrid and dual-mode systems using electric propulsion, alternate propellant research, laboratory plasma diagnostic techniques, and electric propulsion ground test facilities effects.
  • Systems Engineering of Electric Propulsion Subsystems: This includes electric propulsion subsystem design, propellant storage and feed systems development, power processing units design and testing, and integrated system testing of electric propulsion subsystems.
  • Electric Propulsion Flight Programs and Mission Studies: This includes reporting on: flight electric propulsion hardware development; ground and flight system operations; space qualification programs; flight plasma diagnostics development and experiments; in-flight programs status; electric propulsion mission studies for commercial, science, and human exploration space missions.
  • Electric Propulsion Modeling and Simulation: This includes computational models for physical behavior, innovative numerical methods, development of robust computational validation techniques and exploitation of novel hardware configurations. This includes models and simulations supporting: electromagnetic and electrostatic thruster development; interrogation of ground facilities effects; prediction of plume signatures and spacecraft/plume interaction behavior.

Mission Area III: Cube / Nano Satellite Propulsion

Papers are invited to discuss micro-propulsion for CubeSATS, NanoSATS, and other small satellites. Applications, concepts, and designs for propulsion systems or components for small satellites are of interest. Of particular interest are papers on components such as valves, tankage, propellant feed system elements, and power conditioning for micro-propulsion applications. Other areas of interest include:

  • Micro-propulsion
  • Nano-propulsion
  • Micro-thrust devices
  • Cube satellite applications
  • Micro satellite applications
  • Nano-satellite applications
  • Cube/Micro/Nano satellite propulsion systems
  • Small component development and design for small propulsion applications
  • Power conditioning for micro-EP applications
  • System-level integration studies
  • Mission design studies
  • Flight demonstrations

There will be a panel discussion focused on micropropulsion design reference missions and their propulsion system requirements for flight qualification and TRL validation. Several design reference missions and their micropropulsion system requirements will be discussed that capture subsets of mission applications. Papers are invited on micropropulsion mission applications with well-developed and defined propulsion system requirements including performance, mass, volume, propellant throughput and lifetime to focus micropropulsion development and qualification programs and anchor TRL validation in relevant application requirements

Mission Area IV: Future Technologies

Papers are invited for a range of advanced future space propulsion technologies, including but not limited to the following listed areas.

Nuclear Thermal Rocket (NTR) propulsion design, testing, and utilization for future human exploration missions of the solar system, including:

  • NTR spacecraft and mission design for human Mars Exploration mission
  • Solid core NTR concepts with or without bimodal capability
  • Common reactor design for both propulsion and surface power generation
  • Candidate nuclear fuel options
  • Reactor controls and shielding
  • NTR test methods and facilities
  • NTR demonstration options
  • Safety, reliability, risk analysis and crew-rating
  • NTR vehicle operations and costs
  • Planned and/or funded missions
  • Near-term mission concepts
  • Innovative system or subsystem designs

Advanced concepts for both near- and far-term future space propulsion focusing on technologies that promise significant gains in specific impulse, and/or power density, but are based on known fundamental physics, such as:

  • Fusion energy in space propulsion including conventional magnetic schemes, inertial fusion schemes, inertial electrostatic confinement, magnetically insulated inertial fusion, fission-fusion hybrid systems, and concepts that utilize fusion reaction directly or indirectly.
  • Laser or microwave propulsion
  • Solar sail propulsion, electrodynamic and momentum exchange tether propulsion, and other innovative technologies that use the natural environments of space to derive propulsion without the expenditure of conventional fuel.

JHU WSE ERG Technical Representative

Mr. Peyton Nanney, JHU WSE Energetics Research Group / Columbia, MD
Telephone:  (443) 718-5007