Experimental Investigation of a Monopropellant Thruster Using Nitrous Oxide

ABSTRACT: Nitrous oxide is a monopropellant with potential for use in propulsion systems for orbit correction, positioning and attitude control of satellites. This paper presents experimental results with a 2N thruster prototype employing nitrous oxide gas decomposed by a rhodium oxide catalyst supported on alumina. Initially, the thruster design, the test bench and test procedures are described. Then the main experimental results, including thrust curves, mass flow rates, pressures and temperatures along the thruster are presented for pulsed operation. At the end specific impulses, characteristic velocities and thruster efficiencies are determined, thus indicating a catalytic decomposition efficiency of about 88%.