Oliver Jia-Richards

Oliver Jia-Richards
oliverjr 'at' mit.edu
Degrees Pursued: Masters
Research Interests: Low-thrust mission analysis, interplanetary CubeSat missions, rendezvous, spacecraft guidance, navigation, and control

Research Summary:

Independent deep-space exploration with CubeSats requires a compact and highly efficient propulsion system. Electrospray thrusters offer a high delta-V propulsion system compatible with the CubeSat for factor. However, current electrospray thrusters have demonstrated laboratory lifetimes lower than the required firing times for lunar and interplanetary missions. A stage-based approach is proposed where spent thrusters are ejected from the spacecraft exposing new thrusters to continue the mission. This project investigates the physical mechanisms required for staging as well as the spacecraft’s trajectory and a survey of near-Earth asteroids as potential mission targets. In addition, an autonomous interplanetary CubeSat mission needs a computationally simple guidance scheme. Focus is placed on the escape from Earth which takes up the majority of the mission time. Analytical expressions for the 3D position and velocity of the spacecraft during escape are developed which closely estimate the true 3D state based on numerical simulations. Further work involves evaluating the analytical expressions as a guidance scheme by including a feedback controller.

Concept image of stage-based electrospray propulsion system on a 3U CubeSat