Objective: The charter of the Spacecraft Propulsion Subcommittee addresses technical problems and issues of national needs associated with technology applied to space-based primary or auxiliary propulsion. These issues (for both system and component level) include design, development, materials, lifetime, performance, ground testing, flight testing, validation, qualification, spacecraft integration, fabrication processes, standards and cost. Spacecraft propulsion technology issues examined include: chemical propulsion, aerocapture, electric propulsion, nuclear thermal propulsion, propellant management, solar sails, solar thermal propulsion, tether systems, and in-space propulsion infrastructure. 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 re-phasing.

SPS Mission Areas

The 7th JANNAF Spacecraft Propulsion Subcommittee SPS seeks abstracts on the full array of spacecraft propulsion technology interests including electric propulsion, advanced chemical propulsion, solar thermal propulsion, nuclear thermal propulsion, aerocapture, solar sails, tether systems, and technologies for the future. Topics to highlight:

  • Spacecraft power
  • Secondary payload manifest requirements
  • Advanced monoprops
  • Spacecraft modeling and simulation

Mission Area I: Chemical Propulsion

Mr. A. Paul Zuttarelli, AFRL/Edwards AFB
Telephone:   (661) 275-6786

Dr. Steven J. Schneider, NASA-GRC/Cleveland
Telephone:   (216) 977-7484

Papers are invited that cover all areas of chemical propulsion; topics of interest are those which address thruster development for state of the art and advanced propellant formulations. Monopropellant, bipropellant, gel, solid, and hybrid chemical propulsion areas are all of interest. 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. Papers targeting development and validation of catalytic, augmented catalytic and non-catalytic decomposition or ignition means, operational parameters of duty and thermal cycle impacts to response repeatability and useful life, pre-cursor and synthesized material quality control measures, impact of impurities on catalytic performance, and operational conditioning of propellants and decomposition and ignition means such as catalytic reactors are solicited. The relationship of these items on delivered performance and the ability to model and estimate their impacts supports increased resolution mission planning and spacecraft design. Papers addressing additional system configuration concerns such as propellant atomization, dispersion within an ignition means, associated kinetics, and mixing are also of interest.

Papers on decreased toxicity chemical propulsion approaches are solicited that discuss their advantages and disadvantages to ground operations and overall spacecraft delivered performance relative to state of the art alternatives. Increasing community knowledge of the relative impact of forthcoming technologies will support the transition and evolution of these propulsion approaches.

The following topics are of particular interest for sessions supporting spacecraft chemical propulsion:

  • Integrated thruster performance
  • Catalyst response and life limiting factors
  • Alternative catalytic, augmented catalytic, and non-catalytic decomposition and ignition configurations
  • Thruster component technologies (valves, seals, catalytic reactor bed plates, catalytic substrate and active materials, chamber materials, advancements to decrease manufacturing expense, mass and power required)
  • Propellant (decreased toxicity and state of the art) storage and management
  • Propellant formulation, synthesis and quality control
  • Propellant hazards and their impact to operations (ground and flight)
  • Propellant decomposition and combustion environment impact to materials requirements and duty cycle
  • Throttleable and pulsed system delivered performance, architecture considerations relative to state of the art, and optimum mission application

Mission Area II: Electric Propulsion

Dr. Hani Kamhawi, NASA-GRC/Cleveland
Telephone:   (216) 977-7435

Dr. Daniel Brown, AFRL/Edwards AFB
Telephone:   (661) 275-5028

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, laboratory and flight plasma diagnostic techniques, and electric propulsion test facilities.
  • Systems Engineering of Electric Propulsion Thrusters: This includes electric propulsion system design, alternate propellant testing, propellant storage and feed systems development, power processing units design and testing, navigation and control systems development, and integrated system testing of electric propulsion sub-systems.
  • Electric Propulsion Flight Programs: This includes reporting on ground and flight system operations, space qualification programs, and in-flight programs status.
  • Modeling of Electric Propulsion Thrusters, Plume, and Spacecraft Interaction: This includes modeling of the physics of electric propulsion thrusters, modeling of thruster and spacecraft interactions, development of plume models, and development of models to validate ground and flight measurements and operations.

Mission Area III: Cube / Nano Satellite Propulsion

Dr. Juergen Mueller, JPL/Pasadena
Telephone:   (818) 354-4755

Dr. William A. Hargus, Jr., AFRL/Edwards AFB
Telephone:   (661) 275-6799

Papers are invited in for discussing micro-propulsion and propulsion options for CubeSATS, NanoSATS, and other small satellites. Applications, concepts, and designs for propulsion systems or components in small satellites are of interest. Of particular interest are papers on components such as valves, tankage, propellant feed parts, 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
  • Nano-satellite applications

Mission Area IV: Propellantless Propulsion Systems

Mr. Matthew Gasch, NASA-ARC/Moffett Field
Telephone:   (650) 604-5377

Emphasis is on solar sail propulsion, electrodynamic and momentum exchange tether propulsion, aerocapture and other innovative technologies that use the natural environments of space to derive propulsion without the expenditure of conventional fuel. Atmospheric entry and thermal protection systems are also of interest.

  • Review or summary of previous flight experiments
  • Planned and/or funded missions
  • Near-term mission concepts
  • Advanced mission concepts
  • Innovative system or subsystem designs
  • Guidance, navigation and control
  • Space environmental effects
  • Atmospheric entry systems
  • Development, characterization, modeling and testing of TPS materials

Mission Area V: Nuclear / Solar Thermal Propulsion / Technologies of the Future

Dr. Marcus P. Young, AFRL/Edwards AFB
Telephone:   (661) 275-5624

Dr. Kurt A. Polzin, NASA-MSFC/Huntsville
Telephone:   (256) 544-5513

Mr. Wayne J. Bordelon, NASA-MSFC/Huntsville
Telephone:   (256) 544-1579

Session includes all aspects of Nuclear Thermal Rocket (NTR) propulsion design, testing, and utilization for future robotic and human exploration missions of the solar system. Topics of interest for these sessions include, but are not limited to the following topics:

  • 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

Key focus areas of Solar Thermal Propulsion are engines and concentrators with specific interest in the following topics:

  • Engine concepts (thermal storage, direct gain, bimodal, volumetric, etc.)
  • Engine support structures, insulation techniques, and materials
  • Inflatable, deployable or rigidizing and secondary concentrations
  • Reflectors
  • Engine/concentrator integration and alignment
  • Sun acquisition
  • Sun tracking and pointing
  • Mission concepts and applications utilizing a solar thermal propulsion system to enable new mission scenarios or to enhance current mission capabilities.

Sessions include advanced concepts for both near- and far-term future space propulsion. Specific topics include 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.
  • High-energy fuels
  • Use of antimatter in propulsion systems
  • Laser or microwave propulsion
  • Mass drivers

Mission Area VI: Program and Mission Application Overviews and Technology Infusion Challenges


This mission area is intended to raise awareness of NASA and DOD propulsion technology development programs, relevant mission and flight applications, related technologies, and the challenges and issues of infusing new technologies in future missions.  New technologies face significant barriers to adoption onto spaceflight systems. Uncertainty and disagreement regarding the maturity level of new technologies, as well as the requisite maturity necessary for integration into existing systems is a pervasive issue in the spacecraft community. There are also the challenges of risk perception and its impact on technology development and transition efforts.

Specifically, papers are solicited that discuss technology development programs, technology infusion barriers, and how to overcome them, from a multitude of perspectives: technology provider, spacecraft builder, mission manager, and principle investigator. Technologies can include any SPS related technology or system, flight instrumentation, spacecraft power, avionics, GN&C, or structural systems. Issues to be covered include, but are not limited to, flight opportunities, integration issues, first flight, operational complications, testing and qualification, and cost determination.

Technology Development Programs, Related Technologies, and Infusion Challenges

  • Program and Mission Overviews
  • Spacecraft Power
  • Technology Infusion Challenges
  • Spacecraft Modeling and Simulation

Mission Applications and Flight Programs

  • Mission design and analysis for LEO, GEO, orbit transfer, planetary, and interplanetary applications
  • Ground and flight system operations
  • Space qualification programs
  • Flight programs
  • Ground testing and facilities
  • Propulsion applications (nano and micro satellites, high-power electric propulsion, primary propulsion versus station keeping, non-propulsive applications for electric and chemical propulsion, etc.

Mission Area VII: Special Topic: Spacecraft Modeling and Simulation

Dr. Justin Koo, AFRL/Edwards AFB
Telephone:   (661) 275-5908

Virtually all the mission areas represented at JANNAF SPS have some Modeling and Simulation (M&S) activity as an essential, yet underrepresented, component of successful technology development. We strongly encourage prospective authors to develop separate M&S papers, in addition to mission area specific papers, so that knowledge of the unique and promising computational aspect of SPS can be disseminated throughout the community. These include computational models for physical behavior, innovative numerical methods, development of robust computational validation techniques and exploitation of novel hardware configurations. Topics of particular interest to the organizing committee are those supporting: catalyst development; electromagnetic and electrostatic thruster development; prediction of plume signatures and spacecraft/plume interaction behavior.

Spacecraft Propulsion Subcommittee Chair

Dr. Daniel Brown, AFRL/Edwards AFB
Telephone:   (661) 275-5028

Spacecraft Propulsion Subcommittee Deputy Chair

Mr. David T. Jacobson, NASA-GRC/Cleveland
Telephone:  (216) 433-3691

CADRE Technical Representative

Mr. David Owen, JHU-CADRE/Columbia
Telephone:  (443) 718-5006