SEDS UCSD Prints, Tests Thruster for NASA Cube Quest Competition

By Heather Dewis | SEDS UCSD

UC San Diego, CA – UC San Diego’s Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS UCSD) tested its first monopropellant thruster, Callan, earlier this summer at Purdue University to confirm its designed thrust of 1 lbf at ideal steady state operation. The thruster is part of the group’s NASA Cube Quest entry, Triteia, and aims to propel the cube satellite into lunar orbit.

Monopropellant thruster (Photo courtesy of Diana Alsindy, SEDS UCSD)

‘Callan’ monopropellant thruster  (Photo courtesy of Diana Alsindy, SEDS UCSD)

The testing conducted at Purdue collected high speed videos, infrared thermal images, and pressure and temperature data to demonstrate the flight readiness of additively manufactured thrusters with an emphasis on safety and reliability.

The group extends its gratitude to Metal Technology, Inc., a SEDS UCSD platinum sponsor who was instrumental in this process by printing Callan using Inconel 718. The thruster includes an additively manufactured diffuser section, reaction chamber, and nozzle.  Its catalyst pack is manufactured through traditional processes.

Photo courtesy of Diana Alsindy, SEDS UCSD

Photo courtesy of Diana Alsindy, SEDS UCSD

SEDS UCSD is an undergraduate student-run research group that aims to advance the future of space exploration and development technology. The group is also known for being the first student group to successfully launch a rocket powered by an entirely 3-D printed engine – the Vulcan-1, also additively manufactured from Inconel 718.

SEDS UCSD will present data analysis, validation, and verification of its first printed design of the thruster as well as a second iteration of the thruster for future testing and analysis at NASA Cube Quest’s Ground Tournament Three on September 21, 2016.




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