Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics


Aeronautics and Astronautics

Committee Chair

Alina Alexeenko

Committee Member 1

Alexey Shashurin

Committee Member 2

Stephen Heister

Committee Member 3

Jordi Puig-Suari


Since their inception two decades ago, CubeSats have become dominant in the small satellite market, enabling new mission architectures, technology development, and education opportunities. However, the limited mass, power, and volume inherent in this small platform, constrains the on board subsystems and thus the capabilities compared to larger satellites. Attitude control is essential to maximizing the potential of CubeSats and other nanosatellites, though traditional momentum control systems such as reaction wheels are not feasible on the smallest CubeSats. Micropropulsion is an intriguing alternative to traditional methods, and many miniaturization efforts have been made for chemical and electrical propulsion systems. One such micro-propulsion unit is Film Evaporation Microelectromechanical System Tunable Array (FEMTA). FEMTA manipulates the temperature dependence of liquid water capillary action to produce controllable and precise thrust in the 10 to 100 microNewton range. FEMTA has been demonstrated in both thrust tests and in single axis rotation tests. This work describes the further characterization of FEMTA technology through these tests and compares it to other micropropulsion technologies in a trade study for micropropulsion as attitude control devices on various sizes of CubeSats.