Russia Develops Multifunctional Engine for Spacecraft
Improving the performance of small spacecraft and creating maneuverable satellite orbital formations can be made possible with the engine systems designed in Russia, according to researchers at the Omsk Technical University (OmSTU). The research findings have been published in various scientific publications, such as the Dynamics of Systems, Mechanisms, and Machines journal.
Small Spacecraft to Benefit from Russian Engine Innovations
Small spacecraft (SC) weighing between 1 to 500 kg are utilized for a wide range of scientific and applied tasks, including remote sensing of the Earth and space monitoring, as revealed by experts at Omsk Polytechnic University.
These spacecraft operate in low Earth orbits, where the influence of Earth's gravity is significant. Therefore, to maintain their functionality, suitable propulsion systems are necessary for SC.
"For the latter, the reserve of characteristic velocity is particularly important, that is, the velocity required for various maneuvers. It is also crucial to consider the design's sufficient fuel reserve, low energy consumption, and compact engine size," explained Anton Lukyanchik, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Aviation and Rocket Engineering at OmSTU.
For instance, the automation, electric valves, and microengine remain unchanged, while the fuel system in the form of a tank and pipelines is configured for specific objectives. This provides a greater reserve of characteristic velocity for orbital maneuvering. Additionally, thanks to a series of engineering solutions, reliability is increased, mass is reduced, and the time required for creating propulsion systems is minimized, added Lukyanchik.
Researchers at Omsk Technical University Propose Innovative Engine Design
Currently, various freons, isobutane, and other hazardous gases are used as fuel for propulsion systems. However, researchers at OmSTU have proposed a design that can operate on a completely human-safe alcohol-water mixture.
"The alcohol-water mixture is supplied from the fuel tank to the automation components and enters the microengine. It consists of a large number of gas channels and a heater. When voltage is applied, the microengine heats up, the fuel evaporates, and the resulting vapor overheats, generating thrust," specified Lukyanchik.
The scientist emphasized that the necessary components for creating experimental samples of the propulsion system were obtained by the university at the end of 2022 as part of the "Priority 2030" program. Currently, specialists are engaged in their assembly, and by the end of this year, they plan to conduct tests in a vacuum chamber.