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Abstract

Determining the performance characteristics of off the shelf pulsed plasma thrusters to enhance the life time of low earth orbiting platforms was investigated theoretically. Pulsed plasma thruster analysis was accomplished through development of correlations from historical data that distinguished between breech fed propellant to side fed propellant designs. Based on semi-empirical equations the power required by the thruster to counter react the drag was estimated and mapped for 1U to 27U CubeSat configurations for altitude ranging between 200km to 600km. It appears that the power required is dependent on the feeding delivery system design. For side fed designs the power required to counter react the drag is 30.03% lower as compared with breech fed pulsed plasma thrusters designs. The methodologies and analysis implemented can shorten the spacecraft preliminary design phase and reduce the time and cost associated with development of spacecraft missions

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