Volume 31 Issue 4 - March 3, 2017 PDF
Challenge of Long-Term Indigenous Development of Critical Systems – Development of Hydrogen Peroxide Satellite Reactive Control System (RCS) as an Example
Yei-Chin Chao1,*, H.W. Hsu2, C.A. Chen2, Y.C. Hsu2, Y.A. Chan1, C.K. Kuan1, G.B.Chen3
1 Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, NCKU.
2 Aerospace Science and technology Research Center, NCKU.
3 Research Center for Energy and Strategy, NCKU.
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【105 Outstanding Research Award】Special Issue

I. Challenge of Long-Term Indigenous Development of Critical Systems
In the current atypical engineering research and development environment in Taiwan, researchers should be encouraged to look very carefully and honestly of the current national engineering capability. What this country needs most is not the number of paper publication of most advanced technology, but those critical materials, techniques, and systems that subject to export license controls. Long-term indigenous development is the key to successful breakthrough of these limitations and controls. Export licenses usually control a series of critical materials, parts, and systems in sequence. The key point is that these critical materials and techniques lead to high-precision and high-quality system with direct impact on promotion of industrial and technology level. Therefore, sustained long-term in-depth research and development step by step from materials, techniques to systems with careful examination and verification tests is the true spirit of long-term indigenous development. The challenge of long-term indigenous development lies in the integrations of these difficult factors: long-term and sustained devotion and sacrifice of the researcher, the research environment of advanced major test facilities and instrumentations with sufficient technology support of experienced technicians, and long-term continuous (usually more than 10 years) research funding support from the government or agents. These challenges are difficult to overcome for the current university and government systems, and are highly concerned topics to be reconsidered.

Ⅱ. Long-term development hydrogen peroxide satellite reactive control system (RCS)
Hydrogen peroxide in aerospace applications can be dated back as early as WWII [1-2] and recently attracted extensive revised research attention due to the prevailing of “green” propulsion concept [3-5] .Take the long-term devotion of our research team to the indigenous development of hydrogen peroxide satellite reactive control system (RCS) as an example. Thanks to the advanced major test facilities and instrumentations and the sufficient technology support of experienced technicians provided by NCKU Aerospace Science and Technology Research Center (ASTRC) since the establishment of NCKU Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (IAA) in 1983, and more importantly, the long-term continuous (usually more than 10 years) research funding support from National Space Organization (NSPO) and National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) and funding for full-time research manpower from Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), the goal of long-term indigenous development of hydrogen peroxide satellite RCS is successfully achieved.

Hydrazine and its catalyst have long been used as RCS for satellites. However, in view of the extreme toxic hazard and export license control of hydrazine and catalyst and after careful evaluation we have chosen hydrogen peroxide and its catalyst as the candidate for our indigenous development for satellite RCS. Although high-concentration hydrogen peroxide (or called high-test peroxide, HTP) for propulsion is still subject to export license control and without local supplier, we still decided to choose the “green” HTP as the target critical material for indigenous development. After about three years of investigation and study, we have set up the facility and technical procedure to produce high-test propulsion grade hydrogen peroxide (85% and up of concentration) [6] . We are the sole research team that owns this technique and facility in Taiwan and this technique and facility have been transferred to NSPO under contract. Further development was devoted to the study of an innovative high-efficiency, stable and long-durability catalyst and composite catalyst bed design for satellite RCS [7] , as shown conceptually and schematically in Fig. 1.
Fig. 1 Conceptual design of the composite catalyst bed for decomposition of high-test hydrogen peroxide

The high-concentration HTP and high-efficiency catalyst bed techniques were applied in further development of a pair of 1-lb hydrogen micro-thrusters. The thruster system was used as the propulsion payload for high-altitude tests in the 8th National Sounding Rocket program and was successfully launched to an altitude more than 270 km in 2013. The thruster and the propulsion payload system is shown in Fig. 2.
Fig. 2  Photograph of the HTP thruster system for flight tests in the 8th National Sounding Rocket Program

Later, our team became the first university research team to officially sign up a long-term (7 years) research contract with NSPO to develop and to transfer technology for an 1N RCS system. Through a series of careful hot-fire, ground and vacuum tests and verifications, the indigenous RCS system is scheduled to be used in the National Formosa Satellite #7 to be launched in 2018. The long-term indigenous development of the “green” satellite RCS proves to have direct impact on up-grading our space technology and space industry as well as on enhancing our precision defense technology.

  1. H. Walter, T. Benecke, A.W. Quick, Hydrogen Peroxide Rockets, History of German Guided Missile Developments”, Ed. Benecke, T. and Quick, A. W., AGARDografh Nº20, (1956).
  2. C.M. Willis, The Effect Of Catalyst-Bed Arrangement On Thrust Buildup And Decay Time For A 90 Percent Hydrogen Peroxide Control Rocket, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1960.
  3. E. Wernimont, P. Mullens, Recent developments in hydrogen peroxide monopropellant devices, in:  AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit, 35 th, Los Angeles, CA, 1999.
  4. E. Wernimont, G. Garboden, Experimentation with hydrogen peroxide oxidized rockets, in:  AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit, 35 th, Los Angeles, CA, 1999.
  5. C.K. Kuan, G.-B. Chen, Y.-C. Chao, Development and ground tests of a 100-millinewton hydrogen peroxide monopropellant microthruster, Journal of Propulsion and Power, 23 (2007) 1313-1320.
  6. C.K. Kuan, Indigenous Technology Development of an Advanced 100mN HTP Monopropellant Microthruster, Master's degree thesis, National Cheng Kung University, (2006).
  7. Y.A. Chan, H.W. Hsu, Y.C. Chao, Development of a HTP Mono-propellant Thruster by Using Composite Silver Catalyst, AIAA 2011-5693, 47th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit, (2011).
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