Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Aerospace, Physics, and Space Sciences

First Advisor

Markus Wilde

Second Advisor

Brian Kish

Third Advisor

Jay Kovats

Fourth Advisor

David Fleming


Solid propellant has come a long way since the 13th century when gunpowder was widely used as the go-to means in rocket propulsion. Of course, back then, rockets were not intended to carry humanity out of the atmosphere. Untill the introduction of liquid propellants in the mid-20th century, solid propellants were the foundation. Still, liquid propellants aimed to add more stability and controllability to rocketry and thus were preferred over their solid counterparts. This thesis seeks to analyze a novel type of propulsive device that aims to eliminate challenges faced by both types of fuels and instead utilize the advantages of both technologies. Solid propellant traditionally offers higher propulsive power and a better thrust-to-weight ratio, especially if the weights of all the additional components are included in the calculation- compared to liquid fuels. However, liquid motors can be turned on and off very quickly, and the combustion itself can be controlled to offer a wide range of propulsive powers and efficiencies. However, liquid fuels require many supplementary parts to make the technology usable. This includes pressurized chambers, anti-sloshing devices, pumps, valves, piping, injectors, etc., to name a few. These parts are often heavy, expensive, and the technology itself is very complex. This thesis proposes a solution that carries the same propulsive efficiency as solid fuel, can produce a range of different thrusts and moments without requiring a vast array of supplementary parts and offers a more extensive range of controllability and stability than both liquid and solid fuels used as they are today.

The proposed thruster shall utilize a pulsed-based electrical ignition system that utilizes solid propellant pellets, featuring a central combustion chamber that opens to five different nozzles—providing high controllability, stability, and propulsive efficiency. This concept is then applied to small satellite technology, providing a more significant deal of propulsion ability into that niche, and opening the market for satellite servicing, orbit manipulation, and debris removal. This thesis will introduce, analyze, and compare this device to the current state-of-the-art small satellite propulsion technologies. Finally, it will conclude with the need for this technology to exist.

Available for download on Monday, December 18, 2023