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Thrust in Space The Nuances of Thruster Valve Design

  • Magazine Article
  • 20AERP08_03
Published August 01, 2020 by SAE International in United States
  • English

Applications for thruster valves are growing daily. More and more companies are designing rockets, satellites, and reusable space vehicles that require thruster valves to position, maintain, or change vehicle orbit in space. In particular, launch systems designed to place small, micro, and nano satellites into orbit are proliferating. This new generation of satellites is designed to provide everything from communications, imaging, GPS, weather forecasting, climate change monitoring, and even monitoring of farmland irrigation and fertilization needs. The demand for space-based images especially drives the need for more imaging satellites.

The thruster valve plays a crucial role in the guidance and positioning of space vehicles, rockets and satellites. The thruster valve must reliably respond to commands from the vehicle guidance system to fire when, and for as long as needed, to move the spacecraft to a different position. When needed, thrusters do not normally fire for long periods of time. Rather, they are fired in short bursts to control the vehicle position.