Monday, December 22, 2008
Progress in further miniaturizing spacecraft and increasing the capabilities of very small spacecraft require a host of technological advances. An example of such an advance is this new microthruster propulsion concept, which comes from an international team of university-based engineers. Instead of having separate heating elements and needing to pump liquid propellants over them to get ignition, electrical energy is fed directly into the monopropellant, saving weight and complexity. As Ming-Hsun Wu of the National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan put it, "This is the first time that electrolysis has been used as an ignition mechanism for a microscale liquid monopropellant microthruster and the results turned out to be pretty exciting."