Development Programs

Recently expanded electric propellants from solids to liquid formulations

DSSP is constantly investing in ourselves and leveraging our contract work for new products.  We have recently expanded our development of electric propellants from just solids to liquid formulations now.  We are also expanding our development of variable yield explosives with our recent Air Force contract.   Our MDA development focuses on green, safe, propulsion systems for the interceptor’s end-game. The DARPA “Plasma Cannon” program continues to push the limits of electro-thermal-chemical (ETC) combustion.  Below we have provided a few examples of the long term development programs that we are leading with several different DoD customers. If you have special commercial development needs or applications for our materials, let us know, it may be already done.


Precision ACS (PACS) for Kinetic Weapons

Our Precision ACS (PACS) while combined with either a Liquid or Solid DACS delivers high precision Kinetic Weapon (KW) attitude control for long range target discrimination and acquisition. The PACS features multiple pulse Electric Solid Propellant (ESP) thrusters that are either individually pulsed (controlled for very small impulse bits) or controlled in parallel for larger ACS thrust. The PACS takes full advantage of the inherent IM (1901a) and “Green” attributes of the new ESP technology. The result is an extremely lightweight, simple, and low cost ACS subsystem that, when combined with a Liquid or Solid extinguishment DACS, enables the KW to operate for much longer periods.


Direct Plasma Production from Electric Solid Propellant for High Velocity Launch Systems: AKA, “The Plasma Cannon”

3.2.2 PictureAs an alternative to near-obsolete double-base or triple-base propellants, Digital Solid State Propulsion is developing Electric Solid Propellants (ESP) as a safe, green, high performance, easily manufactured alternative for high velocity electro-thermal-chemical (ETC) gun rounds. These electric energetic materials are inherently safe, with ignition only possible via the sustained supply of electrical current and not by spark, flame, or even bullet impact. We mature our materials technology by the incorporation of novel forms of nanomaterials in ESP formulations in both the propellant and igniters for enhanced medium and large-caliber gun performance, benefiting defense platforms across the Department of Defense. The demonstration-phase activity is scheduled whereby medium caliber rounds will be instrumented and test fired to show increased range, improved accuracy, in a highly energy-dense transportable form factor.


A key technology that is lacking is a Cubesat propulsion system that will enable deep-space (beyond LEO) CubeSats, which operate outside of Earth’s magnetic field, to desaturate reaction wheels. These types of missions cannot use the magnetorquers that are common on the Earth orbiting CubeSats that are so popular today. DSSP is developing a multi-pulse solid rocket motor (MPM), which uses green, safe Electric Solid Propellants (ESPs).  This MPM for CubeSats will enable desaturation of reaction wheels on 6U and 12U interplanetary missions without undue cost or complexity.

With the development of DSSP’s new liquid Pulsed Plasma Thruster (PPT), NASA will be able to fly more ambitious missions with better fuel efficiency and lower toxicity and sensitivity than current thrusters. Unlike conventional Teflon-fueled PPTs, DSSP’s thrusters use revolutionary HAN-based Green Electric Monopropellant, or GEM, which will be tested under subcontract at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. This combines the high specific impulse (or fuel efficiency) of conventional PPTs with the flexibility allowed by liquid fueled systems by connecting a liquid propellant-filled tank to the thruster via valve. This will be used for both small and large CubeSats, or satellites ranging from 3U to 12U in size.

Air Force

Our Air Force programs are focused both on propulsion and warhead/bomb development.  Propulsion development is directed at more agile missiles using advanced DACS with /without fin guidance.  Our explosives development takes advantage of our smart energetics to be throttled for application to scalable effects weapons.  Our new scalable effects weapons will provide a tune-able explosive yield can be programmed in flight.  This Air Force program also leverages DSSP’s Plasma Cannon development for DARPA, using electro-thermal-chemical (ETC) combustion on an even larger scale for bomb fills.


In this work, we developed highly aluminized Electric Solid Propellant (ESP) “igniterless” rocket motors that have been demonstrated at the 4-inch diameter scale. Theses igniterless rocket motors use inert metal electrodes for direct ignition of the ESP, thereby eliminating the need for pyrotechnic ignition systems. This demonstration included igniterless ignition of static test motors of the 200 lbf thrust class.



Electrically-Initiated Igniters and Propellants

3.2.6 ArmyFollowing the Department of Defense’s initiative to improve munitions safety, Digital Solid State Propulsion (DSSP) is testing our Electrically Controlled Energetic Materials (ECEMs) as an alternative to the Army’s 120mm tank primer material, Benite. Because primer materials, such as Benite and BKNO3, are quite sensitive to external stimuli such as impact, friction, and heat, a high performance replacement is desired that is immune to such threats. The inherent safety of the ECEM propellant is due to ignition being caused by electrical stimulus and not pyrotechnic response. ECEMs are ignited with embedded electrodes, with resulting combustion that can be augmented by power input modulation. DSSP’s baseline propellant primer, HIPEP, is insensitive to friction, impact, electrostatic shock, and does not burn with flame impingement or .50cal bullet impact.

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Additional Information About Our Innovative & Energetic Technology