Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair

Dr. William Engblom

Committee Member

Dr. Vladimir Golubev

Committee Member

Dr. Vladimir Golubev


The performance of microthruster nozzles (^ 0.1 N thrust) depending on nozzle contour, propellant and surroundings, destined for use in nanosatellite missions, is investigated via a numerical approach using the Wind-US flow solver. An experimental apparatus designed to measure microthruster performance in atmospheric or vacuum conditions used to aid numerical simulations is also presented. Comparing the numerical and experimental results show an approximate 25% drop in efficiency for unknown reasons. An evaluation of favorable nozzle contours suggested by previous researchers is conducted, and the results demonstrate the need for a more rigorous treatment of the nozzle flow at the exit plane. A matrix of numerical simulations of conical and bell nozzles using Wind-US are presented which indicate optimum thrust performance as function of conical half angle, bell nozzle exit angle, and geometric scale. Correlations are provided for optimum micronozzle thrust efficiency versus throat Reynolds number, along with optimal shape.