Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering


College of Engineering


Faysal Kolkailah

Advisor Department

Aerospace Engineering

Advisor College

College of Engineering


Electrospray thrusters are low thrust, high specific impulse electric propulsion devices with applications in precision attitude control of space vehicles and efficient propulsion of small spacecraft platforms. These devices operate by electrostatically extracting particles from the surface of ionic liquid propellants and accelerating them away from the vehicle at high speed. Unlike more conventional propulsion technologies which only require electronics for control and regulation, electrospray thruster systems require extensive electronics to operate. The power processing unit (PPU) is a device used to produce the high voltage levels required to operate an electrospray thruster and to measure its operating parameters. The digital control interface unit (DCIU) functions to communicate with the parent system, issue low-level commands to the PPU, and to track propulsion parameters. In this work, a DCIU/PPU system is developed to support parallel developments of electrospray thruster platforms at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. The system designed includes commercial off-the-shelf XP Power A-Series high voltage power supplies to support bias levels up to 2kV for two separate electrospray thruster heads, allowing for potential operation in the bipolar emission mode. A Microchip Technologies PIC24F microcontroller is selected to control the system and communicate with a parent system. Instrumentation is designed to support high voltage and sub-microampere current measurement. A down-scaled prototype of the designed system is fabricated for testing of core functionality.