Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Carl M. Hartsfield, PhD


A small resistojet design was evaluated for its current performance and assessed for design and operational improvements. This resistojet is designed to operate on AFIT CubeSats with the intent of providing 100-200 mN of thrust at a specific impulse between 66-104 seconds. Using previously collected data and studies conducted on the design, analysis was performed to determine the current performance of this first-generation design. This provided a starting point for performance analysis over a variety of operational temperatures and pressures. This process was conducted for various heat exchanger path lengths of both the current design and two adapted path geometries. Comparing the thrust, specific impulse, and heating power requirements against the mass flow indicated where improvements in performance can be attained. After completion of the thruster performance assessment, a heat transfer evaluation was conducted. Analysis into the heat exchanger’s ability to maintain effective operational temperatures provided data as to how long it can support the desired performance. A discussion as to whether the current heating power provided can be reduced is followed. Overall, it is determined that for the thruster to maintain performance it will need to operate in smaller bursts of time that shorten with increased mass flow.

AFIT Designator



A 12-month embargo was observed.

Approved for public release. Case number on file.