Science and Technology of Energetic Materials

Vol.67, No.3 (2006)

Research paper

Application of a laser to solid propellant microthruster for combustion control with variable thrust (*in Japanese)
Akira Kakami, Shinichiro Masaki, Ryoma Hiyamizu, Hiroyuki Horisawa, and Takeshi Tachibana


A concept of a solid propellant thruster using laser sustained combustion was proposed to develop a microthruster for small spacecraft. The combustion of this proposed thruster is sustained only when laser beam is irradiated on the solid propellant surface, and thrust is variable with the laser power: this would be archived by the combination of non-self-combustible solid propellants, whose combustion is sustained with additional heat input, and a laser diode that supplies the heat to the solid propellant. In order to demonstrate the concept of the proposed thruster, fuel rich composite propellants set in a nitrogen-purged chamber were irradiated with a 30-W class continuous-wave YAG laser, which is used as a tentative alternate to the laser diode. The experiment showed that the solid propellant combustion was sustained and interrupted by irradiating and interrupting the YAG laser. Mass burning rates measurement at back pressures from 1 to 100 kPa showed good agreement with Vieille's law, yielding the pressure exponents of about 0.5.

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Solid propellant, Laser sustained combustion, Space propulsion

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