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Fast Variable-Amplitude Cold Gas Thruster



William C. Stone


A fast response variable amplitude cold gas thruster is described. A laboratory prototype comprised of a piezoelectric stack and an associated microporcessor-based programmable dc power source, a low-loss mechanical displacement amplifier, a high-pressure spring-loaded axial valve, an integral high-pressure valve seat; an expansion nozzle, and a high-pressure gas supply were constructed and tested. The device is designed to operate as a stand-alone unit with a dedicated onboard microcontroller system and onboard energy storage system. Minimum pulse-width resolution (base-to-base) was shown to be 0.98 ms, with a lag time of 0.37 ms relative to the initiation of the drive pulse. Linear amplitude response was achieved beyond a threshold drive voltage of 80 vdc and was maintained through the limit of testing at 240 vdc.
AIAA Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets
No. 2


cold gas thruster, amplitude control, piezoelectric stack, structural dynamics, predictive models, system identification


Stone, W. (1995), Fast Variable-Amplitude Cold Gas Thruster, AIAA Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, [online], (Accessed July 20, 2024)


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Created March 1, 1995, Updated February 19, 2017