A laser ignition microthruster has been developed for microsatellites. Thruster performances such as impulse and ignition probability were measured, using boron potassium nitrate (B/KNO3) solid propellant ignited by a 1 W CW laser diode. The measured impulses were 60 mNs ± 15 mNs with almost 100 % ignition probability. The effect of the mixture ratios of B/KNO3 on thruster performance was also investigated, and it was shown that mixture ratios between B/KNO3/binder = 28/70/2 and 38/60/2 exhibited both high ignition probability and high impulse. Laser ignition thrusters designed and fabricated based on these data became the first non-conventional microthrusters on the Kouku Kousen Satellite No. 1 (KKS-1) microsatellite that was launched by a H2A rocket as one of six piggyback satellites in January 2009.
2010 The Japan Society for Aeronautical and Space Sciences