TTH with NASA to produce high-performance thrusters

Seeker (left) is an external, free flying robot that will inspect Cygnus. Kenobi (right) is the translator between Cygnus and Seeker, storing all of Seeker’s valuable data. Each vehicle is approximately 10 cm x 10 cm x 30 cm in length.

The Technology House (TTH) worked with NASA to rapidly and cost-effectively produce four high-performance thrusters for the cold-gas propulsion system within the new Seeker robotic free flier inspector. Seeker is a NASA free flier technology demonstration project for autonomous robotic inspection that launched recently aboard the Cygnus spacecraft for Northrop Grumman’s 11th contracted Commercial Resupply Services mission to the International Space Station (ISS). NASA needed a technology that could quickly manufacture highly optimized propulsion components as part of a series of rapid integrated system design cycles.

The Seeker team set out on extensive development and qualification test schedule to understand the capability of the components, and test methods to screen for process variations.

Through the Carbon Platform, TTH supported NASA with on-demand production capabilities that were not only proved as a repeatable production process meeting NASA’s strict mechanical requirements but also as one whose materials can be validated for high-performance, space-bound parts. TTH’s work demonstrated that by building parts with something like the Carbon Platform, NASA can develop a spacecraft like Seeker in a fast, cost-effective manner with new technologies and plastic materials.