Amit Patel

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering (MSE)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair

Jason T. Cassibry

Committee Member

David Lineberry

Committee Member

Robert A. Frederick, Jr.


Electric propulsion, Rocket engines--Thrust, Space vehicles--Propulsion systems


A new magnetically levitating low-friction test stand was developed for the purpose of ground testing micro-propulsion devices. The goal was to evaluate the performance characteristics of micro-thrusters by taking measurements during individual firings and calculating specific impulse and impulse-bit in the milli-Newton second range under atmospheric pressure. The test stand utilized a magnetic levitation controller to suspend a payload containing the necessary firing and data collection electronics. Upon firing, the levitating payload rotated (similar to a thrust balance configuration) and the lateral acceleration and angular velocity data were collected. Sensor calibration experiments, performed with a high speed camera, verified proper function of the gyroscopic sensor. Uncertainty analysis was performed on a series of data from atmospheric experiments. Uncertainty for impulse-bit measurements generally ranged from 6.8% - 8.1% and specific impulse uncertainty ranged from 10% - 23%. The micro-thrusters analyzed had an impulse-bit range from 0.1 - 2.75 mN-s and a specific impulse range from 30 - 400 seconds.



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