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ThinSat Vacuum Arc Thruster Open Access

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With the growing popularity of small satellites such as CubeSats and ThinSats, the need for compact, lightweight propulsion systems has increased. The GW ThinSat Micropropulsion System integrates vacuum arc thruster technology with the ThinSat platform developed by Twiggs Space Labs, Near Space Launch, and Virginia Space to produce a system that is small, efficient, inexpensive, and relatively easy to manufacture. The circuit uses voltage supply and signals that can be produced by an Arduino to create the signals necessary for the thruster to operate. The rapid change in electrical potential across the thruster causes a piece of the cathode to ablate and be propelled away from the truster, creating thrust. The software system creates the pulsed signal as well as collecting IMU data and formatting it for transmission. The system is less than 3mm in thickness, and based on testing, the system draws less than .25W and is expected to produce 8uN of thrust.

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