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The paper describes experimental research on a resistojet type rocket thruster which was built as an actuator in the Attitude Control System of a model space robotic platform. A key element of the thruster is the heater responsible for increasing the temperature of the working medium in the thruster chamber and hence the specific impulse. This parameter describes the performance of the thruster, increases providing – for lower propellant consumption – the same propulsion effect (thrust). A high performance thruster means either total launch mass can be reduced or satellite lifetime increased, which are key commercial factors. During the first phase of the project, 7 different heating chamber designs were examined. The heater is made of resistive wire with resistivity of 9Ω/m. Power is delivered by a dedicated supply system based on supercapacitors with output voltage regulated in the range of 20–70 V. The experimental phase was followed by designing the chamber geometry and the heating element able to deliver both: maximum increase of gas temperature and minimum construction dimensions. Experiments with the optimal design show an increase in temperature of the working gas (air) by about 300 ◦C giving a 40% increase in specific impulse. The final effect of that is a 40% reduction in mass flow rate while retaining thrust at a nominal level of 1 N.
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