Design and Commissioning of Resonance Igniter for Water Electrolysis Propulsion Systems for Cubesats

Aufbau und Inbetriebnahme eines Resonanzzündsystems für Wasserelektrolyseantriebe für Kleinsatelliten



With the increased importance of cubesats and their consequently increase in numbers in orbit the interest of developing compact propulsion systems is on the rise. Equally important is the need to preserve the cleanliness of space. Water electrolysis propulsion is one promising concept making use of alternative propellants.

Current research in industry is focused on thruster and electrolyser development. The main hurdle to application is however the system complexity. A flexible system, ready for integration into cubesat sized satellites, will combine cold gas attitude control with the capability of high thrust. Such a system would also allow to deorbit cube and nanosatellite platforms to allow for maintaining of a clean space thereby contributing to reducing the threats posed by space debris.

The development of a compact propulsion unit with low complexity and as an autonomous system is therefore a must. Such an autonomous de-orbiting system would allow to de-orbit the satellite either upon end of useful lifetime or in the case of an unexpected system or major subsystem failure.


  • Literature study on resonance igniter systems and evaluation of possibilities with special consideration on transient short time pulse operation (~1-2 sec.) focus on minimum impulse bit capability and ignition delay.
  • Concept design of a resonance igniter system and integration in a thrust chamber design, with consideration of system performance, boundary conditions and requirements.
  • Conception and implementation of a control and measurement system.
  • Production support, assembly, and commissioning of the test rig.
  • Prove of concept with dedicated experiments.
  • Documentation and presentation of results.