We first engaged in hydrazine propulsion technologies in 1966. Since that time, Lampoldshausen's Orbital Propulsion Centre has become an international leader in the development, production and testing of hydrazine thrusters and propulsion systems for commercial, scientific and military spacecraft.
Initially, a wide range of thrust levels were required for the many different programmes. Today, the thruster range has been rationalised to the most frequently demanded 'work horse' thrusters with the benefit of a consistent production line type manufacturing process. The units currently available are the 1N, 20N and 400N thrusters.
Our hydrazine thrusters use storable monopropellant N2H4. Thrust is produced by the decomposition of hydrazine as it passes through a catalyst bed.
Thrusters are designed for operation in both steady state and pulse mode operation over a wide pressure range and are thus ideal for propulsion systems operating in blow-down mode.
All thruster combustion chambers and nozzles are manufactured from Haynes 25 alloy. The thruster structure is also designed to serve as a heat shield for protecting the propellant valve and spacecraft structure.
Thrusters are equipped with an internally redundant catalyst bed heater and thermal insulation to guarantee optimum reproducible start-up conditions. Moreover, all thrusters are qualified for multiple cold starts.
Thruster valves are of the dual seat solenoid type, produced by ArianeGroup and also by external partners. The nominal valve voltage is 28 Volts DC. Thruster performance is identical for both valve types.
Customarily, our hydrazine thrusters are adapted to specific customer requirements. We supply from thruster and component level through to complete plug-in propulsion modules. Both thruster and complete propulsion systems can be operated over a wide pressure range in both pressure regulated and system blow-down modes.
Many of our complete hydrazine propulsion systems are supplied as self contained 'plug-in' propulsion modules. The module, comprises the complete propulsion system together with all of the associated sensors, heaters, thermistors, pressure transducers and harness elements.
The 'plug-in' propulsion module provides just two interfaces to the spacecraft:
Further details of a typical plug-in propulsion modules can be found in the propulsion systems section.
Our 400N hydrazine thruster is also used for launch vehicle roll control and upper stage orientation and precision manoeuvres, as typically used on all versions of the Ariane 5 launcher.
Thrusters in high demand are economically produced on a series production line and are therefore readily available, subject to customer specific requirements. Thrusters with less demand are made to order.
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