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Sample records for acceleration space thruster

  1. The FRC Acceleration Space Thruster (FAST) Experiment

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Martin, Adam; Eskridge, Richard; Houts, Mike; Slough, John; Rodgers, Stephen L. (Technical Monitor)

    2002-01-01

    The objective of the FRC (Field Reversed Configuration) Acceleration Space Thruster (FAST) Experiment is to investigate the use of a repetitive FRC source as a thruster, specifically for an NEP (nuclear electric propulsion) system. The Field Reversed Configuration is a plasmoid with a closed poloidal field line structure, and has been extensively studied as a fusion reactor core. An FRC thruster works by repetitively producing FRCs and accelerating them to high velocity. An FRC thruster should be capable of I(sub sp)'s in the range of 5,000 - 25,000 seconds and efficiencies in the range of 60 - 80 %. In addition, they can have thrust densities as high as 10(exp 6) N/m2, and as they are inductively formed, they do not suffer from electrode erosion. The jet-power should be scalable from the low to the high power regime. The FAST experiment consists of a theta-pinch formation chamber, followed by an acceleration stage. Initially, we will produce and accelerate single FRCs. The initial focus of the experiment will be on the ionization, formation and acceleration of a single plasmoid, so as to determine the likely efficiency and I(sub sp). Subsequently, we will modify the device for repetitive burst-mode operation (5-10 shots). A variety of diagnostics are or will be available for this work, including a HeNe interferometer, high-speed cameras, and a Thomson-scattering system. The status of the experiment will be described.

  2. Ion accelerator systems for high power 30 cm thruster operation

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Aston, G.

    1982-01-01

    Two and three-grid accelerator systems for high power ion thruster operation were investigated. Two-grid translation tests show that over compensation of the 30 cm thruster SHAG grid set spacing the 30 cm thruster radial plasma density variation and by incorporating grid compensation only sufficient to maintain grid hole axial alignment, it is shown that beam current gains as large as 50% can be realized. Three-grid translation tests performed with a simulated 30 cm thruster discharge chamber show that substantial beamlet steering can be reliably affected by decelerator grid translation only, at net-to-total voltage ratios as low as 0.05.

  3. Miniature Free-Space Electrostatic Ion Thrusters

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Hartley, Frank T.; Stephens, James B.

    2006-01-01

    A miniature electrostatic ion thruster is proposed for maneuvering small spacecraft. In a thruster based on this concept, one or more propellant gases would be introduced into an ionizer based on the same principles as those of the device described in an earlier article, "Miniature Bipolar Electrostatic Ion Thruster". On the front side, positive ions leaving an ionizer element would be accelerated to high momentum by an electric field between the ionizer and an accelerator grid around the periphery of the concave laminate structure. On the front side, electrons leaving an ionizer element would be ejected into free space by a smaller accelerating field. The equality of the ion and electron currents would eliminate the need for an additional electron- or ion-emitting device to keep the spacecraft charge-neutral. In a thruster design consisting of multiple membrane ionizers in a thin laminate structure with a peripheral accelerator grid, the direction of thrust could then be controlled (without need for moving parts in the thruster) by regulating the supply of gas to specific ionizer.

  4. Performance of 30-cm ion thrusters with dished accelerator grids

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Rawlin, V. K.

    1973-01-01

    Thirteen sets of dished accelerator grids were treated on five different 30 cm diameter bombardment thrusters to evaluate the effects of grid geometry variations on thruster discharge chamber performance. The dished grid parameters varied were: grid-to-grid spacing, screen and accelerator grid hole diameter, screen and accelerator open area fraction, compensation for beam divergence losses, and accelerator grid thickness. The effects on discharge chamber performance of main magnetic field changes, magnetic baffle current, cathode pole piece length and cathode position were also investigated.

  5. Ion accelerator systems for high power 30-cm thruster operation

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Aston, G.

    1982-01-01

    An investigation of two- and three-grid accelerator systems for high power ion thruster operation has been performed. Two-grid translation tests show that overcompensation of the 30-cm thruster SHAG (Small Hole Accelerator Grid) leads to a premature impingement limit. By better matching the SHAG grid set spacing to the 30-cm thruster radial plasma density variation and by incorporating grid compensation only sufficient to maintain grid hole axial alignment, it is shown that beam current gains as large as 50% can be realized. Three-grid translation tests performed with a simulated 30-cm thruster discharge chamber show that substantial beamlet steering can be reliably affected by decelerator grid translation only, at net-to-total voltage ratios as low as 0.05.

  6. Mercury ion thruster research, 1977. [plasma acceleration

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Wilbur, P. J.

    1977-01-01

    The measured ion beam divergence characteristics of two and three-grid, multiaperture accelerator systems are presented. The effects of perveance, geometry, net-to-total accelerating voltage, discharge voltage and propellant are examined. The applicability of a model describing doubly-charged ion densities in mercury thrusters is demonstrated for an 8-cm diameter thruster. The results of detailed Langmuir probing of the interior of an operating cathode are given and used to determine the ionization fraction as a function of position upstream of the cathode orifice. A mathematical model of discharge chamber electron diffusion and collection processes is presented along with scaling laws useful in estimating performance of large diameter and/or high specific impluse thrusters. A model describing the production of ionized molecular nitrogen in ion thrusters is included.

  7. Studies of dished accelerator grids for 30-cm ion thrusters

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Rawlin, V. K.

    1973-01-01

    Eighteen geometrically different sets of dished accelerator grids were tested on five 30-cm thrusters. The geometric variation of the grids included the grid-to-grid spacing, the screen and accelerator hole diameters and thicknesses, the screen and accelerator open area fractions, ratio of dish depth to dish diameter, compensation, and aperture shape. In general, the data taken over a range of beam currents for each grid set included the minimum total accelerating voltage required to extract a given beam current and the minimum accelerator grid voltage required to prevent electron backstreaming.

  8. Studies of dished accelerator grids for 30-cm ion thrusters

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Rawlin, V. K.

    1973-01-01

    Geometrically different sets of dished accelerator grids were tested on five 30-cm thrusters. The geometric variation of the grids included the grid-to-grid spacing, the screen and accelerator hole diameters and thicknesses, the screen and accelerator open area fractions, ratio of dish depth to the dish diameter, compensation, and aperture shape. In general, the data taken over a range of beam currents for each grid set included the minimum total accelerating voltage required to extract a given beam current and the minimum accelerator grid voltage required to prevent electron backstreaming.

  9. Advanced space propulsion thruster research

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Wilbur, P. J.

    1981-01-01

    Experiments showed that stray magnetic fields can adversely affect the capacity of a hollow cathode neutralizer to couple to an ion beam. Magnetic field strength at the neutralizer cathode orifice is a crucial factor influencing the coupling voltage. The effects of electrostatic accelerator grid aperture diameters on the ion current extraction capabilities were examined experimentally to describe the divergence, deflection, and current extraction capabilities of grids with the screen and accelerator apertures displaced relative to one another. Experiments performed in orificed, mercury hollow cathodes support the model of field enhanced thermionic electron mission from cathode inserts. Tests supported the validity of a thermal model of the cathode insert. A theoretical justification of a Saha equation model relating cathode plasma properties is presented. Experiments suggest that ion loss rates to discharge chamber walls can be controlled. A series of new discharge chamber magnetic field configurations were generated in the flexible magnetic field thruster and their effect on performance was examined. A technique used in the thruster to measure ion currents to discharge chamber walls is described. Using these ion currents the fraction of ions produced that are extracted from the discharge chamber and the energy cost of plasma ions are computed.

  10. MHD plasma acceleration in plasma thrusters: a variational approach

    SciTech Connect

    Andreussi, T.; Pegoraro, F.

    2010-12-14

    A Hamiltonian formulation of the MHD plasma flow equations in terms of noncanonical variables is briefly discussed for the case of stationary axisymmetric configurations. This formulation makes it possible to cast these flow equations in a variational form with mixed (closed and/or open) boundary conditions. Within this framework the modelling of the acceleration channel of an applied-field Magneto-Plasma-Dynamic (MPD) thruster for space propulsion is discussed and shown to provide general relationships between the flow features and the thruster performance.

  11. NASA - 77M prototype hall thruster built under the High Voltage Hall accelerator development project

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    2005-01-01

    NASA - 77M prototype hall thruster built under the High Voltage Hall accelerator development project funded by the Science Mission Directorate ; potential use is propulsion for deep space science missions

  12. Advanced electrostatic ion thruster for space propulsion

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Masek, T. D.; Macpherson, D.; Gelon, W.; Kami, S.; Poeschel, R. L.; Ward, J. W.

    1978-01-01

    The suitability of the baseline 30 cm thruster for future space missions was examined. Preliminary design concepts for several advanced thrusters were developed to assess the potential practical difficulties of a new design. Useful methodologies were produced for assessing both planetary and earth orbit missions. Payload performance as a function of propulsion system technology level and cost sensitivity to propulsion system technology level are among the topics assessed. A 50 cm diameter thruster designed to operate with a beam voltage of about 2400 V is suggested to satisfy most of the requirements of future space missions.

  13. Plasma acceleration processes in an ablative pulsed plasma thruster

    SciTech Connect

    Koizumi, Hiroyuki; Noji, Ryosuke; Komurasaki, Kimiya; Arakawa, Yoshihiro

    2007-03-15

    Plasma acceleration processes in an ablative pulsed plasma thruster (APPT) were investigated. APPTs are space propulsion options suitable for microspacecraft, and have recently attracted much attention because of their low electric power requirements and simple, compact propellant system. The plasma acceleration mechanism, however, has not been well understood. In the present work, emission spectroscopy, high speed photography, and magnetic field measurements are conducted inside the electrode channel of an APPT with rectangular geometry. The successive images of neutral particles and ions give us a comprehensive understanding of their behavior under electromagnetic acceleration. The magnetic field profile clarifies the location where the electromagnetic force takes effect. As a result, it is shown that high density, ablated neutral gas stays near the propellant surface, and only a fraction of the neutrals is converted into plasma and electromagnetically accelerated, leaving the residual neutrals behind.

  14. A Plasmoid Thruster for Space Propulsion

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Koelfgen, Syri J.; Hawk, Clark W.; Eskridge, Richard; Smith, James W.; Martin, Adam K.

    2003-01-01

    There are a number of possible advantages to using accelerated plasmoids for in-space propulsion. A plasmoid is a compact plasma structure with an integral magnetic field. They have been studied extensively in controlled fusion research and are classified according to the relative strength of the poloidal and toroidal magnetic field (B(sub p), and B(sub t), respectively). An object with B(sub p), / B(sub t) much greater than 1 is classified as a Field Reversed Configuration (FRC); if B(sub p) approximately equal to B(sub t), it is called a Spheromak. The plasmoid thruster operates by producing FRC-like plasmoids and subsequently ejecting them from the device at a high velocity. The plasmoid is formed inside of a single-turn conical theta-pinch coil. As this process is inductive, there are no electrodes. Similar experiments have yielded plasmoid velocities of at least 50 km/s, and calculations indicate that velocities in excess of 100 km/s should be possible. This concept should be capable of producing Isp's in the range of 5,000 - 15,000 s with thrust densities on the order of 10(exp 5) N per square meters. The current experiment is designed to produce jet powers in the range of 5 - 10 kW, although the concept should be scalable to several MW's. The plasmoid mass and velocity will be measured with a variety of diagnostics, including internal and external B-dot probes, flux loops, Langmuir probes, high-speed cameras and a laser interferometer. Also of key importance will be measurements of the efficiency and mass utilization. Simulations of the plasmoid thruster using MOQUI, a time-dependent MHD code, will be carried out concurrently with experimental testing.

  15. Acceleration Mechanism Of Pulsed Laser-Electromagnetic Hybrid Thruster

    SciTech Connect

    Horisawa, Hideyuki; Mashima, Yuki; Yamada, Osamu

    2011-11-10

    A fundamental study of a newly developed rectangular pulsed laser-electromagnetic hybrid thruster was conducted. Laser-ablation plasma in the thruster was induced through laser beam irradiation onto a solid target and accelerated by electrical means instead of direct acceleration only by using a laser beam. The performance of the thrusters was evaluated by measuring the ablated mass per pulse and impulse bit. As results, significantly high specific impulses up to 7,200 s were obtained at charge energies of 8.6 J. Moreover, from the Faraday cup measurement, it was confirmed that the speed of ions was accelerated with addition of electric energy.

  16. Micropropulsion in space via dust-plasma thruster

    SciTech Connect

    Avinash, K.; Zank, G. P.

    2007-05-15

    A new engine for propulsion in space, i.e., the dust-plasma thruster, is proposed. The scheme uses plasma thermal energy to charge externally injected sub-micrometer-sized particles and simultaneously create electric fields in the plasma that accelerates them. Particles are subsequently charge stripped and exhausted to produce electrically neutral thrust obviating the need of a charge neutralizer. For reasonable plasma and particle parameters, thrust and specific impulse over a broad range may be produced. The dependence of thrust on particle size, number of injected particles, and plasma temperature density allows for a better thruster precision. The scheme is shown to have modest power requirements. It may be realized in a simple design where there are no high voltage grids or electrodes, charge neutralizer, valves, pressurized gases, etc., and can operate in space or vacuum. A layout for the possible configuration is described.

  17. Charge-exchange erosion studies of accelerator grids in ion thrusters

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Peng, Xiaohang; Ruyten, Wilhelmus M.; Keefer, Dennis

    1993-01-01

    A particle simulation model is developed to study the charge-exchange grid erosion in ion thrusters for both ground-based and space-based operations. Because the neutral gas downstream from the accelerator grid is different for space and ground operation conditions, the charge-exchange erosion processes are also different. Based on an assumption of now electric potential hill downstream from the ion thruster, the calculations show that the accelerator grid erosion rate for space-based operating conditions should be significantly less than experimentally observed erosion rates from the ground-based tests conducted at NASA Lewis Research Center (LeRC) and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). To resolve this erosion issue completely, we believe that it is necessary to accurately measure the entire electric potential field downstream from the thruster.

  18. IEC Thrusters for Space Probe Applications and Propulsion

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Miley, George H.; Momota, Hiromu; Wu, Linchun; Reilly, Michael P.; Teofilo, Vince L.; Burton, Rodney; Dell, Richard; Dell, Dick; Hargus, William A.

    2009-03-01

    Earlier conceptual design studies (Bussard, 1990; Miley et al., 1998; Burton et al., 2003) have described Inertial Electrostatic Confinement (IEC) fusion propulsion to provide a high-power density fusion propulsion system capable of aggressive deep space missions. However, this requires large multi-GW thrusters and a long term development program. As a first step towards this goal, a progression of near-term IEC thrusters, stating with a 1-10 kWe electrically-driven IEC jet thruster for satellites are considered here. The initial electrically-powered unit uses a novel multi-jet plasma thruster based on spherical IEC technology with electrical input power from a solar panel. In this spherical configuration, Xe ions are generated and accelerated towards the center of double concentric spherical grids. An electrostatic potential well structure is created in the central region, providing ion trapping. Several enlarged grid opening extract intense quasi-neutral plasma jets. A variable specific impulse in the range of 1000-4000 seconds is achieved by adjusting the grid potential. This design provides high maneuverability for satellite and small space probe operations. The multiple jets, combined with gimbaled auxiliary equipment, provide precision changes in thrust direction. The IEC electrical efficiency can match or exceed efficiencies of conventional Hall Current Thrusters (HCTs) while offering advantages such as reduced grid erosion (long life time), reduced propellant leakage losses (reduced fuel storage), and a very high power-to-weight ratio. The unit is ideally suited for probing missions. The primary propulsive jet enables delicate maneuvering close to an object. Then simply opening a second jet offset 180 degrees from the propulsion one provides a "plasma analytic probe" for interrogation of the object.

  19. IEC Thrusters for Space Probe Applications and Propulsion

    SciTech Connect

    Miley, George H.; Momota, Hiromu; Wu Linchun; Reilly, Michael P.; Teofilo, Vince L.; Burton, Rodney; Dell, Richard; Dell, Dick; Hargus, William A.

    2009-03-16

    Earlier conceptual design studies (Bussard, 1990; Miley et al., 1998; Burton et al., 2003) have described Inertial Electrostatic Confinement (IEC) fusion propulsion to provide a high-power density fusion propulsion system capable of aggressive deep space missions. However, this requires large multi-GW thrusters and a long term development program. As a first step towards this goal, a progression of near-term IEC thrusters, stating with a 1-10 kWe electrically-driven IEC jet thruster for satellites are considered here. The initial electrically-powered unit uses a novel multi-jet plasma thruster based on spherical IEC technology with electrical input power from a solar panel. In this spherical configuration, Xe ions are generated and accelerated towards the center of double concentric spherical grids. An electrostatic potential well structure is created in the central region, providing ion trapping. Several enlarged grid opening extract intense quasi-neutral plasma jets. A variable specific impulse in the range of 1000-4000 seconds is achieved by adjusting the grid potential. This design provides high maneuverability for satellite and small space probe operations. The multiple jets, combined with gimbaled auxiliary equipment, provide precision changes in thrust direction. The IEC electrical efficiency can match or exceed efficiencies of conventional Hall Current Thrusters (HCTs) while offering advantages such as reduced grid erosion (long life time), reduced propellant leakage losses (reduced fuel storage), and a very high power-to-weight ratio. The unit is ideally suited for probing missions. The primary propulsive jet enables delicate maneuvering close to an object. Then simply opening a second jet offset 180 degrees from the propulsion one provides a 'plasma analytic probe' for interrogation of the object.

  20. Exceedance statistics of accelerations resulting from thruster firings on the Apollo-Soyuz mission

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Fichtl, G. H.; Holland, R. L.

    1981-01-01

    Spacecraft acceleration resulting from firings of vernier control system thrusters is an important consideration in the design, planning, execution and post-flight analysis of laboratory experiments in space. In particular, scientists and technologists involved with the development of experiments to be performed in space in many instances required statistical information on the magnitude and rate of occurrence of spacecraft accelerations. Typically, these accelerations are stochastic in nature, so that it is useful to characterize these accelerations in statistical terms. Statistics of spacecraft accelerations are summarized.

  1. Exceedance statistics of accelerations resulting from thruster firings on the Apollo-Soyuz mission

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Fichtl, G. H.; Holland, R. L.

    1983-01-01

    Spacecraft acceleration resulting from firings of vernier control system thrusters is an important consideration in the design, planning, execution and post-flight analysis of laboratory experiments in space. In particular, scientists and technologists involved with the development of experiments to be performed in space in many instances required statistical information on the magnitude and rate of occurrence of spacecraft accelerations. Typically, these accelerations are stochastic in nature, so that it is useful to characterize these accelerations in statistical terms. Statistics of spacecraft accelerations are summarized. Previously announced in STAR as N82-12127

  2. Electron dynamics and ion acceleration in expanding-plasma thrusters

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lafleur, T.; Cannat, F.; Jarrige, J.; Elias, P. Q.; Packan, D.

    2015-12-01

    In most expanding-plasma thrusters, ion acceleration occurs due to the formation of ambipolar-type electric fields; a process that depends strongly on the electron dynamics of the discharge. The electron properties also determine the heat flux leaving the thruster as well as the maximum ion energy, which are important parameters for the evaluation of thruster performance. Here we perform an experimental and theoretical investigation with both magnetized, and unmagnetized, low-pressure thrusters to explicitly determine the relationship between the ion energy, E i , and the electron temperature, T e0. With no magnetic field a relatively constant value of {{E}i}/{{T}e0}≈ 6 is found for xenon, while when a magnetic nozzle is present, {{E}i}/{{T}e0} is between about 4-5. These values are shown to be a function of both the magnetic field strength, as well as the electron energy distribution function, which changes significantly depending on the mass flow rate (and hence neutral gas pressure) used in the thruster. The relationship between the ion energy and electron temperature allows estimates to be made for polytropic indices of use in a number of fluid models, as well as estimates of the upper limits to the performance of these types of systems, which for xenon and argon result in maximum specific impulses of about 2500 s and 4500 s respectively.

  3. Integration Testing of a Modular Discharge Supply for NASA's High Voltage Hall Accelerator Thruster

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Pinero, Luis R.; Kamhawi, hani; Drummond, Geoff

    2010-01-01

    NASA s In-Space Propulsion Technology Program is developing a high performance Hall thruster that can fulfill the needs of future Discovery-class missions. The result of this effort is the High Voltage Hall Accelerator thruster that can operate over a power range from 0.3 to 3.5 kW and a specific impulse from 1,000 to 2,800 sec, and process 300 kg of xenon propellant. Simultaneously, a 4.0 kW discharge power supply comprised of two parallel modules was developed. These power modules use an innovative three-phase resonant topology that can efficiently supply full power to the thruster at an output voltage range of 200 to 700 V at an input voltage range of 80 to 160 V. Efficiencies as high as 95.9 percent were measured during an integration test with the NASA103M.XL thruster. The accuracy of the master/slave current sharing circuit and various thruster ignition techniques were evaluated.

  4. Liquid-Metal-Fed Pulsed Electromagnetic Thrusters For In-Space Propulsion

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Markusic, T. E.

    2004-01-01

    We describe three pulsed electromagnetic thruster concepts, which span four orders of magnitude in power processing capability (100 W to >100 kW), for in-space propulsion applications. The primary motivation for using a pulsed system is to is to enable high (instantaneous) power operation, which provides high acceleration efficiency, while using considerably less (continuous) power from the spacecraft power system. Unfortunately, conventional pulsed thrusters require failure-prone electrical switches and gas-puff valves. The series of thrusters described here directly address this problem, through the use of liquid metal propellant, by either eliminating both components or providing less taxing operational requirements, thus yielding a path toward both efficient and reliable pulsed electromagnetic thrusters. The emphasis of this paper is to conceptually describe each of the thruster concepts; however, initial test results with gallium propellant in one thruster geometry are presented. These tests reveal that a greater understanding of gallium material compatibility, contamination, and wetting behavior will be necessary before a completely functional thruster can be developed. Initial experimental results aimed at providing insight into these issues are presented.

  5. Design, fabrication, and operation of dished accelerator grids on a 30-cm ion thruster.

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Rawlin, V. K.; Banks, B. A.; Byers, D. C.

    1972-01-01

    Several closely-spaced dished accelerator grid systems have been fabricated and tested on a 30-cm diameter mercury bombardment thruster and they appear to be a solution to the stringent requirements imposed by the near-term, high-thrust, low specific impulse electric propulsion missions. The grids were simultaneously hydroformed and then simultaneously stress relieved. The ion extraction capability and discharge chamber performance were studied as the total accelerating voltage, the ratio of net-to-total voltage, grid spacing, and dish direction were varied.

  6. Design, fabrication, and operation of dished accelerator grids on a 30-cm ion thruster

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Rawlin, V. K.; Banks, B. A.; Byers, D. C.

    1972-01-01

    Several closely-space dished accelerator grid systems were fabricated and tested on a 30-cm diameter mercury bombardment thruster and they appear to be a solution to the stringent requirements imposed by the near-term, high-thrust, low specific impulse electric propulsion missions. The grids were simultaneously hydroformed and then simultaneously stress relieved. The ion extraction capability and discharge chamber performance were studied as the total accelerating voltage, the ratio of net-to-total voltage, grid spacing, and dish direction were varied.

  7. Characteristics of a 30-cm thruster operated with small hole accelerator grid ion optics

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Vahrenkamp, R. P.

    1976-01-01

    Small hole accelerator grid ion optical systems have been tested as a possible means of improving 30-cm ion thruster performance. The effects of small hole grids on the critical aspects of thruster operation including discharge chamber performance, doubly-charged ion concentration, effluent beam characteristics, and plasma properties have been evaluated. In general, small hole accelerator grids are beneficial in improving thruster performance while maintaining low double ion ratios. However, extremely small accelerator aperture diameters tend to degrade beam divergence characteristics. A quantitative discussion of these advantages and disadvantages of small hole accelerator grids, as well as resulting variations in thruster operation characteristics, is presented.

  8. System tests with electric thruster beam and accelerator directly powered from laboratory solar arrays

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Stover, J. B.

    1976-01-01

    Laboratory high voltage solar arrays were operated directly connected to power the beam and accelerator loads of an 8-centimeter ion thruster. The beam array comprised conventional 2 by 2 centimeter solar cells; the accelerator array comprised multiple junction edge-illuminated solar cells. Conventional laboratory power supplies powered the thruster's other loads. Tests were made to evaluate thruster performance and to investigate possible electrical interactions between the solar arrays and the thruster. Thruster performance was the same as with conventional laboratory beam and accelerator power supplies. Most of the thruster beam short circuits that occurred during solar array operation were cleared spontaneously without automatic or manual intervention. No spontaneous clearing occurred during conventional power supply operation.

  9. Development of an Ion Thruster and Power Processor for New Millennium's Deep Space 1 Mission

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Sovey, James S.; Hamley, John A.; Haag, Thomas W.; Patterson, Michael J.; Pencil, Eric J.; Peterson, Todd T.; Pinero, Luis R.; Power, John L.; Rawlin, Vincent K.; Sarmiento, Charles J.; Anderson, John R.; Bond, Thomas A.; Cardwell, G. I.; Christensen, Jon A.

    1997-01-01

    The NASA Solar Electric Propulsion Technology Applications Readiness Program (NSTAR) will provide a single-string primary propulsion system to NASA's New Millennium Deep Space 1 Mission which will perform comet and asteroid flybys in the years 1999 and 2000. The propulsion system includes a 30-cm diameter ion thruster, a xenon feed system, a power processing unit, and a digital control and interface unit. A total of four engineering model ion thrusters, three breadboard power processors, and a controller have been built, integrated, and tested. An extensive set of development tests has been completed along with thruster design verification tests of 2000 h and 1000 h. An 8000 h Life Demonstration Test is ongoing and has successfully demonstrated more than 6000 h of operation. In situ measurements of accelerator grid wear are consistent with grid lifetimes well in excess of the 12,000 h qualification test requirement. Flight hardware is now being assembled in preparation for integration, functional, and acceptance tests.

  10. Analysis and design of ion thrusters for large space systems

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    James, E. L.

    1980-01-01

    This study undertakes the analysis and conceptual design of a 0.5 Newton electrostatic ion thruster suitable for use on large space system missions in the next decade. Either argon or xenon gas shall be used as propellant. A 50 cm diameter discharge chamber was selected to meet stipulated performance goals. The discharge plasma is contained at the boundary by a periodic structure of alternating permanent magnets generating a series of line cusps. Anode strips between the magnets collect Maxwellian electrons generated by a central cathode. Ion extraction utilizes either two or three grid optics at the user's choice. An extensive analysis was undertaken to investigate optics behavior in the high power environment of this large thruster. A plasma bridge neutralizer operating on inert gas provides charge neutralizing electrons to complete the design. The resulting conceptual thruster and the necessary power management and control requirements are described.

  11. High performance auxiliary-propulsion ion thruster with ion-machined accelerator grid

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Hudson, W. R.; Banks, B. A.

    1975-01-01

    An improvement in thruster performance was achieved by reducing the diameter of the accelerator grid holes. The smaller accelerator grid holes resulted in a reduction in neutral mercury atoms escaping the discharge chamber, which in turn enhanced the discharge propellant utilization from approximately 68 percent to 92 percent. The accelerator grids were fabricated by ion machining with an 8-centimeter-diameter thruster, and the screen grid holes individually focused ion beamlets onto the blank accelerator grid. The resulting accelerator grid holes are less than 1.12 millimeters in diameter, while previously used accelerator grids had hole diameters of 1.69 millimeters. The thruster could be operated with the small-hole accelerator grid at neutralizer potential.

  12. Performance of 30-cm ion thrusters with dished accelerator grids

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Rawlin, V. K.

    1973-01-01

    Thirteen sets of dished accelerator grids were tested on five different 30-cm diameter bombardment thrustors to evaluate the effects of grid geometry variations on thrustor discharge chamber performance. The dished grid parameters varied were: grid-to-grid spacing, screen and accelerator grid hole-diameter, screen and accelerator open area fraction, compensation for beam divergence losses, and accelerator grid thickness. Also investigated were the effects on discharge chamber performance of main magnetic field changes, magnetic baffle current cathode pole piece length and cathode position.

  13. Characterization of ion accelerating systems on NASA LeRC's ion thrusters

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Rawlin, Vincent K.

    1992-01-01

    An investigation is conducted regarding ion-accelerating systems for two NASA thrusters to study the limits of ion-extraction capability or perveance. A total of nine two-grid ion-accelerating systems are tested with the 30- and 50-cm-diam ring-cusp inert-gas ion thrusters emphasizing the extension of ion-extraction. The vacuum-tank testing is described using xenon, krypton, and argon propellants, and thruster performance is computed with attention given to theoretical design considerations. Reductions in perveance are noted with decreasing accelerator-hole-to-screen-hole diameter ratios. Perveance values vary indirectly with the ratio of discharge voltage to total accelerating voltage, and screen/accelerator electrode hole-pair alignment is also found to contribute to perveance values.

  14. Deep Space Mission Applications for NEXT: NASA's Evolutionary Xenon Thruster

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Oh, David; Benson, Scott; Witzberger, Kevin; Cupples, Michael

    2004-01-01

    NASA's Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) is designed to address a need for advanced ion propulsion systems on certain future NASA deep space missions. This paper surveys seven potential missions that have been identified as being able to take advantage of the unique capabilities of NEXT. Two conceptual missions to Titan and Neptune are analyzed, and it is shown that ion thrusters could decrease launch mass and shorten trip time, to Titan compared to chemical propulsion. A potential Mars Sample return mission is described, and compassion made between a chemical mission and a NEXT based mission. Four possible near term applications to New Frontiers and Discovery class missions are described, and comparisons are made to chemical systems or existing NSTAR ion propulsion system performance. The results show that NEXT has potential performance and cost benefits for missions in the Discovery, New Frontiers, and larger mission classes.

  15. Space simulation experiments on reaction control system thruster plumes

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Cassidy, J. F.

    1972-01-01

    A space simulation procedure was developed for studying rocket plume contamination effects using a 5-pound bipropellant reaction control system thruster. Vacuum chamber pressures of 3 x 10 to the minus 5 torr (70 miles altitude) were achieved with the thruster firing in pulse trains consisting of eight pulses (50 msec on, 100 msec off, and seven minutes between pulse trains). The final vacuum was achieved by cooling all vacuum chamber surfaces to liquid helium temperature and by introducing a continuous argon leak of 48 std. cc/sec into the test chamber. An effort was made to simulate propellant system flow dynamics corresponding to actual spacecraft mission use. Fast time response liquid flow rate measurements showed that large variations occurred in the ratio of oxidizer to fuel flow for pulse-on times up to 120 msec. These variations could lead to poor combustion efficiency and the production of contamination.

  16. Space Acceleration Measurement System

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1993-01-01

    This training video, presented by the Lewis Research Center's Space Experiments Division, gives a background and detailed instructions for preparing the space acceleration measurement system (SAMS) for use. The SAMS measures, conditions, and records forces of low gravity accelerations, and is used to determine the effect of these forces on various experiments performed in microgravity. Inertial sensors are used to measure positive and negative acceleration over a specified frequency range. The video documents the SAMS' uses in different configurations during shuttle missions.

  17. Sensitivity of 30-cm mercury bombardment ion thruster characteristics to accelerator grid design

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Rawlin, V. K.

    1978-01-01

    The design of ion optics for bombardment thrusters strongly influences overall performance and lifetime. The operation of a 30 cm thruster with accelerator grid open area fractions ranging from 43 to 24 percent, was evaluated and compared with experimental and theoretical results. Ion optics properties measured included the beam current extraction capability, the minimum accelerator grid voltage to prevent backstreaming, ion beamlet diameter as a function of radial position on the grid and accelerator grid hole diameter, and the high energy, high angle ion beam edge location. Discharge chamber properties evaluated were propellant utilization efficiency, minimum discharge power per beam amp, and minimum discharge voltage.

  18. Sensitivity of 30-cm mercury bombardment ion thruster characteristics to accelerator grid design

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Rawlin, V. K.

    1978-01-01

    The design of ion optics for bombardment thrusters strongly influences overall performance and lifetime. The operation of a 30-cm thruster with accelerator grid open area fractions ranging from 43 to 24 percent, was evaluated and compared with previously published experimental and theoretical results. Ion optics properties measured included the beam current extraction capability, the minimum accelerator grid voltage to prevent backstreaming, ion beamlet diameter as a function of radial position on the grid and accelerator grid hole diameter, and the high energy, high angle ion beam edge location. Discharge chamber properties evaluated were propellant utilization efficiency, minimum discharge power per beam amp, and minimum discharge voltage.

  19. Long life monopropellant hydrazine thruster evaluation for Space Station Freedom application - Test results

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Popp, Christopher G.; Cook, Joseph C.; Ragland, Brenda L.; Pate, Leah R.

    1992-01-01

    In support of propulsion system thruster development activity for Space Station Freedom (SSF), NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) conducted a hydrazine thruster technology demonstration program. The goal of this program was to identify impulse life capability of state-of-the-art long life hydrazine thrusters nominally rated for 50 pounds thrust at 300 psia supply pressure. The SSF propulsion system requirement for impulse life of this thruster class is 1.5 million pounds-seconds, corresponding to a throughput of approximately 6400 pounds of propellant. Long life thrusters were procured from The Marquardt Company, Hamilton Standard, and Rocket Research Company, Testing at JSC was completed on the thruster designs to quantify life while simulating expected thruster firing duty cycles and durations for SSF. This paper presents a review of the SSF propulsion system hydrazine thruster requirements, summaries of the three long life thruster designs procured by JSC and acceptance test results for each thruster, the JSC thruster life evaluation test program, and the results of the JSC test program.

  20. Theta-Pinch Thruster for Piloted Deep Space Exploration

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    LaPointe, Mike R.; Reddy, Dhanireddy (Technical Monitor)

    2000-01-01

    A new high-power propulsion concept that combines a rapidly pulsed theta-pinch discharge with upstream particle reflection by a magnetic mirror was evaluated under a Phase 1 grant awarded through the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts. Analytic and numerical models were developed to predict the performance of a theta-pinch thruster operated over a wide range of initial gas pressures and discharge periods. The models indicate that a 1 m radius, 10 m long thruster operated with hydrogen propellant could provide impulse-bits ranging from 1 N-s to 330 N-s with specific impulse values of 7,500 s to 2,500 s, respectively. A pulsed magnetic field strength of 2 T is required to compress and heat the preionized hydrogen over a 10(exp -3) second discharge period, with about 60% of the heated plasma exiting the chamber each period to produce thrust. The unoptimized thruster efficiency is low, peaking at approximately 16% for an initial hydrogen chamber pressure of 100 Torr. The specific impulse and impulse-bit at this operating condition are 3,500 s and 90 N-s, respectively, and the required discharge energy is approximately 9x10(exp 6) J. For a pulse repetition rate of 10 Hz, the engine would produce an average thrust of 900 N at 3,500 s specific impulse. Combined with the electrodeless nature of the device, these performance parameters indicate that theta-pinch thrusters could provide unique, long-life propulsion systems for piloted deep space mission applications.

  1. Low Cost Electric Propulsion Thruster for Deep Space Robotic Science Missions

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Manzella, David

    2008-01-01

    Electric Propulsion (EP) has found widespread acceptance by commercial satellite providers for on-orbit station keeping due to the total life cycle cost advantages these systems offer. NASA has also sought to benefit from the use of EP for primary propulsion onboard the Deep Space-1 and DAWN spacecraft. These applications utilized EP systems based on gridded ion thrusters, which offer performance unequaled by other electric propulsion thrusters. Through the In-Space Propulsion Project, a lower cost thruster technology is currently under development designed to make electric propulsion intended for primary propulsion applications cost competitive with chemical propulsion systems. The basis for this new technology is a very reliable electric propulsion thruster called the Hall thruster. Hall thrusters, which have been flown by the Russians dating back to the 1970s, have been used by the Europeans on the SMART-1 lunar orbiter and currently employed by 15 other geostationary spacecraft. Since the inception of the Hall thruster, over 100 of these devices have been used with no known failures. This paper describes the latest accomplishments of a development task that seeks to improve Hall thruster technology by increasing its specific impulse, throttle-ability, and lifetime to make this type of electric propulsion thruster applicable to NASA deep space science missions. In addition to discussing recent progress on this task, this paper describes the performance and cost benefits projected to result from the use of advanced Hall thrusters for deep space science missions.

  2. Electron Transport and Ion Acceleration in a Low-power Cylindrical Hall Thruster

    SciTech Connect

    A. Smirnov; Y. Raitses; N.J. Fisch

    2004-06-24

    Conventional annular Hall thrusters become inefficient when scaled to low power. Cylindrical Hall thrusters, which have lower surface-to-volume ratio, are therefore more promising for scaling down. They presently exhibit performance comparable with conventional annular Hall thrusters. Electron cross-field transport in a 2.6 cm miniaturized cylindrical Hall thruster (100 W power level) has been studied through the analysis of experimental data and Monte Carlo simulations of electron dynamics in the thruster channel. The numerical model takes into account elastic and inelastic electron collisions with atoms, electron-wall collisions, including secondary electron emission, and Bohm diffusion. We show that in order to explain the observed discharge current, the electron anomalous collision frequency {nu}{sub B} has to be on the order of the Bohm value, {nu}{sub B} {approx} {omega}{sub c}/16. The contribution of electron-wall collisions to cross-field transport is found to be insignificant. The plasma density peak observed at the axis of the 2.6 cm cylindrical Hall thruster is likely to be due to the convergent flux of ions, which are born in the annular part of the channel and accelerated towards the thruster axis.

  3. Engineering Risk Assessment of Space Thruster Challenge Problem

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Mathias, Donovan L.; Mattenberger, Christopher J.; Go, Susie

    2014-01-01

    The Engineering Risk Assessment (ERA) team at NASA Ames Research Center utilizes dynamic models with linked physics-of-failure analyses to produce quantitative risk assessments of space exploration missions. This paper applies the ERA approach to the baseline and extended versions of the PSAM Space Thruster Challenge Problem, which investigates mission risk for a deep space ion propulsion system with time-varying thruster requirements and operations schedules. The dynamic mission is modeled using a combination of discrete and continuous-time reliability elements within the commercially available GoldSim software. Loss-of-mission (LOM) probability results are generated via Monte Carlo sampling performed by the integrated model. Model convergence studies are presented to illustrate the sensitivity of integrated LOM results to the number of Monte Carlo trials. A deterministic risk model was also built for the three baseline and extended missions using the Ames Reliability Tool (ART), and results are compared to the simulation results to evaluate the relative importance of mission dynamics. The ART model did a reasonable job of matching the simulation models for the baseline case, while a hybrid approach using offline dynamic models was required for the extended missions. This study highlighted that state-of-the-art techniques can adequately adapt to a range of dynamic problems.

  4. Long life monopropellant hydrazine thruster evaluation for Space Station Freedom application

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Popp, Christopher G.; Henderson, John B.

    1991-01-01

    In support of propulsion system thruster development activity for Space Station Freedom (SSF), NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) is conducting a hydrazine thruster technology demonstration program. The goal of this program is to identify impulse life capability of state-of-the-art long life hydrazine thrusters nominally rated for 50 pounds thrust at 300 psia supply pressure. The SSF propulsion system requirement for impulse life of this thruster class is 1.5 million pound-seconds, corresponding to a throughput of approximately 6400 pounds of propellant, with a high performance (234 pound-seconds per propellant pound). Long life thrusters were procured from Hamilton Standard, The Marquardt Company, and Rocket Research Company. Testing has initiated on the thruster designs to identify life while simulating expected thruster firing duty cycles and durations for SSF using monopropellant grade hydrazine. This paper presents a review of the SSF propulsion system and requirements as applicable to hydrazine thrusters, the three long life thruster designs procured by JSC and the resultant acceptance test data for each thruster, and the JSC test plan and facility.

  5. Qualification of Commercial XIPS(R) Ion Thrusters for NASA Deep Space Missions

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Goebel, Dan M.; Polk, James E.; Wirz, Richard E.; Snyder, J.Steven; Mikellides, Ioannis G.; Katz, Ira; Anderson, John

    2008-01-01

    Electric propulsion systems based on commercial ion and Hall thrusters have the potential for significantly reducing the cost and schedule-risk of Ion Propulsion Systems (IPS) for deep space missions. The large fleet of geosynchronous communication satellites that use solar electric propulsion (SEP), which will approach 40 satellites by year-end, demonstrates the significant level of technical maturity and spaceflight heritage achieved by the commercial IPS systems. A program to delta-qualify XIPS(R) ion thrusters for deep space missions is underway at JPL. This program includes modeling of the thruster grid and cathode life, environmental testing of a 25-centimeter electromagnetic (EM) thruster over DAWN-like vibe and temperature profiles, and wear testing of the thruster cathodes to demonstrate the life and benchmark the model results. This paper will present the delta-qualification status of the XIPS thruster and discuss the life and reliability with respect to known failure mechanisms.

  6. Fast Camera Imaging of Hall Thruster Ignition

    SciTech Connect

    C.L. Ellison, Y. Raitses and N.J. Fisch

    2011-02-24

    Hall thrusters provide efficient space propulsion by electrostatic acceleration of ions. Rotating electron clouds in the thruster overcome the space charge limitations of other methods. Images of the thruster startup, taken with a fast camera, reveal a bright ionization period which settles into steady state operation over 50 μs. The cathode introduces azimuthal asymmetry, which persists for about 30 μs into the ignition. Plasma thrusters are used on satellites for repositioning, orbit correction and drag compensation. The advantage of plasma thrusters over conventional chemical thrusters is that the exhaust energies are not limited by chemical energy to about an electron volt. For xenon Hall thrusters, the ion exhaust velocity can be 15-20 km/s, compared to 5 km/s for a typical chemical thruster

  7. Development of a multiplexed electrospray micro-thruster with post-acceleration and beam containment

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lenguito, G.; Gomez, A.

    2013-10-01

    We report the development of a compact thruster based on Multiplexed ElectroSprays (MES). It relied on a microfabricated Si array of emitters coupled with an extractor electrode and an accelerator electrode. The accelerator stage was introduced for two purposes: containing beam opening and avoiding electrode erosion due to droplet impingement, as well as boosting specific impulse and thrust. Multiplexing is generally necessary as a thrust multiplier to reach eventually the level required (O(102) μN) by small satellites. To facilitate system optimization and debugging, we focused on a 7-nozzle MES device and compared its performance to that of a single emitter. To ensure uniformity of operation of all nozzles their hydraulic impedance was augmented by packing them with micrometer-size beads. Two propellants were tested: a solution of 21.5% methyl ammonium formate in formamide and the better performing pure ionic liquid ethyl ammonium nitrate (EAN). The 7-MES device spraying EAN at ΔV = 5.93 kV covered a specific impulse range from 620 s to 1900 s and a thrust range from 0.6 μN to 5.4 μN, at 62% efficiency. Remarkably, less than 1% of the beam was demonstrated to impact on the accelerator electrode, which bodes well for long-term applications in space.

  8. MOA - The Magnetic Field Amplified Thruster, a Novel Concept for a Pulsed Plasma Accelerator

    SciTech Connect

    Frischauf, Norbert; Hettmer, Manfred; Grassauer, Andreas; Bartusch, Tobias; Koudelka, Otto

    2008-01-21

    More than 60 years after the later Nobel laureate Hannes Alfven had published a letter stating that oscillating magnetic fields can accelerate ionised matter via magneto-hydrodynamic interactions in a wave like fashion, the technical implementation of Alfven waves for propulsive purposes has been proposed, patented and examined for the first time by a group of inventors. The name of the concept is MOA - Magnetic field Oscillating Amplified thruster. Based on computer simulations, MOA is a highly flexible propulsion system, whose performance parameters might easily be adapted, by changing the mass flow and/or the power level. As such the system is capable to deliver a maximum specific impulse of 13116 s (12.87 mN) at a power level of 11.16 kW, using Xe as propellant, but can also be attuned to provide a thrust of 236.5 mN (2411 s) at 6.15 kW of power. While space propulsion is expected to be the prime application for MOA and is supported by numerous applications such as Solar and/or Nuclear Electric Propulsion or even as an 'afterburner system' for Nuclear Thermal Propulsion, other terrestrial applications can be thought of as well, making the system highly suited for a common space-terrestrial application research and utilisation strategy. This paper presents the recent developments of the MOA Thruster R and D activities at QASAR (www.qasar.at), the company in Vienna, which has been set up to further develop and test the Alfven wave technology and its applications.

  9. MOA—The Magnetic Field Amplified Thruster, a Novel Concept for a Pulsed Plasma Accelerator

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Frischauf, Norbert; Hettmer, Manfred; Grassauer, Andreas; Bartusch, Tobias; Koudelka, Otto

    2008-01-01

    More than 60 years after the later Nobel laureate Hannes Alfvén had published a letter stating that oscillating magnetic fields can accelerate ionised matter via magneto-hydrodynamic interactions in a wave like fashion, the technical implementation of Alfvén waves for propulsive purposes has been proposed, patented and examined for the first time by a group of inventors. The name of the concept is MOA—Magnetic field Oscillating Amplified thruster. Based on computer simulations, MOA is a highly flexible propulsion system, whose performance parameters might easily be adapted, by changing the mass flow and/or the power level. As such the system is capable to deliver a maximum specific impulse of 13116 s (12.87 mN) at a power level of 11.16 kW, using Xe as propellant, but can also be attuned to provide a thrust of 236.5 mN (2411 s) at 6.15 kW of power. While space propulsion is expected to be the prime application for MOA and is supported by numerous applications such as Solar and/or Nuclear Electric Propulsion or even as an `afterburner system' for Nuclear Thermal Propulsion, other terrestrial applications can be thought of as well, making the system highly suited for a common space-terrestrial application research and utilisation strategy. This paper presents the recent developments of the MOA Thruster R&D activities at QASAR (www.qasar.at), the company in Vienna, which has been set up to further develop and test the Alfvén wave technology and its applications.

  10. Using the DC self-bias effect for simultaneous ion-electron beam generation in space thruster applications

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Rafalskyi, Dmytro; Aanesland, Ane

    2014-10-01

    In this work we discuss ways to use the self-bias effect for broad ion-electron beam generation and present recent experimental results. In asymmetrical systems the self-bias effect leads to rectification of the applied RF voltage to a DC voltage dropped across the space charge sheath near to the electrode having smaller area. Thus, continuous ion acceleration is possible towards the smaller electrode with periodical electron extraction due to the RF plasma potential oscillations. We propose a new concept of neutralizer-free gridded space thruster called NEPTUNE. In this concept, the RF electrodes in contact with the plasma are replaced by a two-grid system such that ``the smaller electrode'' is now the external grid. The grids are biased with RF power across a capacitor. This allows to locate RF space charge sheath between the acceleration grids while still keeping the possibility of a DC self-bias generation. Here we present first proof-of-concept of the NEPTUNE thruster prototype and give basic parameters spacing for such thruster. Comparison of the main parameters of the beam generated using RF and a classical ``DC with neutralizer'' acceleration method shows several advantages of the NEPTUNE concept. This work was supported by a Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowships within the 7th European Community Framework (NEPTUNE PIIF-GA-2012-326054).

  11. Post-Test Analysis of the Deep Space One Spare Flight Thruster Ion Optics

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Anderson, John R.; Sengupta, Anita; Brophy, John R.

    2004-01-01

    The Deep Space 1 (DSl) spare flight thruster (FT2) was operated for 30,352 hours during the extended life test (ELT). The test was performed to validate the service life of the thruster, study known and identify unknown life limiting modes. Several of the known life limiting modes involve the ion optics system. These include loss of structural integrity for either the screen grid or accelerator grid due to sputter erosion from energetic ions striking the grid, sputter erosion enlargement of the accelerator grid apertures to the point where the accelerator grid power supply can no longer prevent electron backstreaming, unclearable shorting between the grids causes by flakes of sputtered material, and rouge hole formation due to flakes of material defocusing the ion beam. Grid gap decrease, which increases the probability of electron backstreaming and of arcing between the grids, was identified as an additional life limiting mechanism after the test. A combination of accelerator grid aperture enlargement and grid gap decrease resulted in the inability to prevent electron backstreaming at full power at 26,000 hours of the ELT. Through pits had eroded through the accelerator grid webbing and grooves had penetrated through 45% of the grid thickness in the center of the grid. The upstream surface of the screen grid eroded in a chamfered pattern around the holes in the central portion of the grid. Sputter deposited material, from the accelerator grid, adhered to the downstream surface of the screen grid and did not spall to form flakes. Although a small amount of sputter deposited material protruded into the screen grid apertures, no rouge holes were found after the ELT.

  12. Optimum performance of MHD-augumented chemical rocket thrusters for space propulsion applications

    SciTech Connect

    Schulz, R.J.; Chapman, J.N.

    1995-12-31

    The use of magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) acceleration of a chemical rocket exhaust stream, to augment the thrust of small, space-propulsion type chemical thrusters was examined, with the purpose of identifying {open_quotes}optimum{close_quotes} performance. Optimum performance is defined herein as the highest spacecraft acceleration levels with concurrent highest specific impulse, that the hybrid propulsion system can generate, given a fixed mass flow of propellant and fixed chamber pressure (150 psia). The exhaust nozzle-MHD channel selected was of the simplest kind, a three-segmented Faraday generator, for simplicity in design, manufacture, and power control circuit assembly. The channel expanded in only one plane or direction, the plane intersecting the electrodes. The distance between the side walls was fixed. Three different fuel oxidizer combinations were investigated: H{sub 2} - O{sub 2}, fuel oil - O{sub 2}, and hydrazine - nitrogen tetroxide. These represent the spectrum of typical liquid rocket propellants. The fraction of the propellant flow representing potassium, as K{sub 2}CO{sub 3}, was kept constant at 1/2 percent of the total propellant flow. The results of the study verify that the MHD-augmented chemical thruster will be an important propulsion system option for space missions requiring accelerations of the order of milli-gravities with specific impulses of the order of 4,000 seconds. The system study showed that a 3-segmented, diverging Faraday channel with about a 2{degrees} divergence angle, enclosed by a 4 Tesla magnet, was capable of providing exhaust gas exit velocities of the order of 40000 m/s for all three propellant combinations. Hence, a hybrid propulsion system of the type identified here is capable of providing thrusts of the order of 400 Newtons, spacecraft accelerations of the order 2 milli-gravities, with electric power requirements of about 2.4 megawatts, based on propellant total mass flow rates of about 10 grams per second.

  13. On the capabilities of nano electrokinetic thrusters for space propulsion

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Diez, F. J.; Hernaiz, G.; Miranda, J. J.; Sureda, M.

    2013-02-01

    A theoretical analysis considering the capabilities of nano electrokinetic thrusters for space propulsion is presented. The work describes an electro-hydro-dynamic model of the electrokinetic flow in nano-channels and represents the first attempt to exploit the advantages of the electrokinetic effect as the basis for a new class of nano-scale thrusters suitable for space propulsion. Among such advantages are their small volume, fundamental simplicity, overall low mass, and actuation efficiency. Their electrokinetic efficiency is affected by the slip length, surface charge, pH and molarity. These design variables are analyzed and optimized for the highest electrokinetic performance inside nano-channels. The optimization is done for power consumption, thrust and specific impulse resulting in high theoretical efficiency ˜99% with corresponding high thrust-to-power ratios. Performance curves are obtained for the electrokinetic design variables showing that high molarity electrolytes lead to high thrust and specific impulse values, whereas low molarities provide highest thrust-to-power ratios and efficiencies. A theoretically designed 100 nm wide by 1 μm long emitter optimized using the ideal performance charts developed would deliver thrusts from 5 to 43 μN, specific impulse from 60 to 210 s, and would have power consumption between 1-15 mW. It should be noted that although this is a detail analytical analysis no prototypes exist and any future experimental work will face challenges that could affect the final performance. By designing an array composed of thousands of these single electrokinetic emitters, it would result in a flexible and scalable propulsion system capable of providing a wide range of thrust control for different mission scenarios and maintaining very high efficiencies and thrust-to-power ratio by varying the number of emitters in use at any one time.

  14. A high power ion thruster for deep space missions

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Polk, James E.; Goebel, Dan M.; Snyder, John S.; Schneider, Analyn C.; Johnson, Lee K.; Sengupta, Anita

    2012-07-01

    The Nuclear Electric Xenon Ion System ion thruster was developed for potential outer planet robotic missions using nuclear electric propulsion (NEP). This engine was designed to operate at power levels ranging from 13 to 28 kW at specific impulses of 6000-8500 s and for burn times of up to 10 years. State-of-the-art performance and life assessment tools were used to design the thruster, which featured 57-cm-diameter carbon-carbon composite grids operating at voltages of 3.5-6.5 kV. Preliminary validation of the thruster performance was accomplished with a laboratory model thruster, while in parallel, a flight-like development model (DM) thruster was completed and two DM thrusters fabricated. The first thruster completed full performance testing and a 2000-h wear test. The second successfully completed vibration tests at the full protoflight levels defined for this NEP program and then passed performance validation testing. The thruster design, performance, and the experimental validation of the design tools are discussed in this paper.

  15. A high power ion thruster for deep space missions.

    PubMed

    Polk, James E; Goebel, Dan M; Snyder, John S; Schneider, Analyn C; Johnson, Lee K; Sengupta, Anita

    2012-07-01

    The Nuclear Electric Xenon Ion System ion thruster was developed for potential outer planet robotic missions using nuclear electric propulsion (NEP). This engine was designed to operate at power levels ranging from 13 to 28 kW at specific impulses of 6000-8500 s and for burn times of up to 10 years. State-of-the-art performance and life assessment tools were used to design the thruster, which featured 57-cm-diameter carbon-carbon composite grids operating at voltages of 3.5-6.5 kV. Preliminary validation of the thruster performance was accomplished with a laboratory model thruster, while in parallel, a flight-like development model (DM) thruster was completed and two DM thrusters fabricated. The first thruster completed full performance testing and a 2000-h wear test. The second successfully completed vibration tests at the full protoflight levels defined for this NEP program and then passed performance validation testing. The thruster design, performance, and the experimental validation of the design tools are discussed in this paper. PMID:22852684

  16. Systems and methods for cylindrical hall thrusters with independently controllable ionization and acceleration stages

    DOEpatents

    Diamant, Kevin David; Raitses, Yevgeny; Fisch, Nathaniel Joseph

    2014-05-13

    Systems and methods may be provided for cylindrical Hall thrusters with independently controllable ionization and acceleration stages. The systems and methods may include a cylindrical channel having a center axial direction, a gas inlet for directing ionizable gas to an ionization section of the cylindrical channel, an ionization device that ionizes at least a portion of the ionizable gas within the ionization section to generate ionized gas, and an acceleration device distinct from the ionization device. The acceleration device may provide an axial electric field for an acceleration section of the cylindrical channel to accelerate the ionized gas through the acceleration section, where the axial electric field has an axial direction in relation to the center axial direction. The ionization section and the acceleration section of the cylindrical channel may be substantially non-overlapping.

  17. Space Shuttle reaction control system thruster metal nitrate removal and characterization

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Saulsberry, R. L.; McCartney, P. A.

    1993-11-01

    The Space Shuttle hypergolic primary reaction control system (PRCS) thrusters continue to fail-leak or fail-off at a rate of approximately 1.5 per flight, attributed primarily to metal nitrate formation in the nitrogen tetroxide (N2O4) pilot operated valves (POV's). The failures have continued despite ground support equipment (GSE) and subsystem operational improvements. As a result, the Johnson Space Center (JSC) White Sands Test Facility (WSTF) performed a study to characterize the contamination in the N204 valves. This study prompted the development and implementation of a highly successful flushing technique using deionized (DI) water and gaseous nitrogen (GN2) to remove the contamination while minimizing Teflon seat damage. Following flushing a comprehensive acceptance test is performed before the thruster is deemed recovered. Between the time WSTF was certified to process flight thrusters (March 1992) and September 1993, a 68 percent thruster recovery rate was achieved. The contamination flushed from these thrusters was analyzed and has provided insight into the corrosion process, which is reported in this publication. Additionally, the long-term performance of 24 flushed thrusters installed in the WSTF Fleet Leader Shuttle reaction control subsystem (RCS) test articles is being assessed. WSTF continues to flush flight and test article thrusters and compile data to investigate metal nitrate formation characteristics in leaking and nonleaking valves.

  18. Space Shuttle reaction control system thruster metal nitrate removal and characterization

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Saulsberry, R. L.; Mccartney, P. A.

    1993-01-01

    The Space Shuttle hypergolic primary reaction control system (PRCS) thrusters continue to fail-leak or fail-off at a rate of approximately 1.5 per flight, attributed primarily to metal nitrate formation in the nitrogen tetroxide (N2O4) pilot operated valves (POV's). The failures have continued despite ground support equipment (GSE) and subsystem operational improvements. As a result, the Johnson Space Center (JSC) White Sands Test Facility (WSTF) performed a study to characterize the contamination in the N204 valves. This study prompted the development and implementation of a highly successful flushing technique using deionized (DI) water and gaseous nitrogen (GN2) to remove the contamination while minimizing Teflon seat damage. Following flushing a comprehensive acceptance test is performed before the thruster is deemed recovered. Between the time WSTF was certified to process flight thrusters (March 1992) and September 1993, a 68 percent thruster recovery rate was achieved. The contamination flushed from these thrusters was analyzed and has provided insight into the corrosion process, which is reported in this publication. Additionally, the long-term performance of 24 flushed thrusters installed in the WSTF Fleet Leader Shuttle reaction control subsystem (RCS) test articles is being assessed. WSTF continues to flush flight and test article thrusters and compile data to investigate metal nitrate formation characteristics in leaking and nonleaking valves.

  19. Oxygen-hydrogen thrusters for Space Station auxiliary propulsion systems

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Berkman, D. K.

    1984-01-01

    The feasibility and technology requirements of a low-thrust, high-performance, long-life, gaseous oxygen (GO2)/gaseous hydrogen (GH2) thruster were examined. Candidate engine concepts for auxiliary propulsion systems for space station applications were identified. The low-thrust engine (5 to 100 lb sub f) requires significant departure from current applications of oxygen/hydrogen propulsion technology. Selection of the thrust chamber material and cooling method needed or long life poses a major challenge. The use of a chamber material requiring a minimum amount of cooling or the incorporation of regenerative cooling were the only choices available with the potential of achieving very high performance. The design selection for the injector/igniter, the design and fabrication of a regeneratively cooled copper chamber, and the design of a high-temperature rhenium chamber were documented and the performance and heat transfer results obtained from the test program conducted at JPL using the above engine components presented. Approximately 115 engine firings were conducted in the JPL vacuum test facility, using 100:1 expansion ratio nozzles. Engine mixture ratio and fuel-film cooling percentages were parametrically investigated for each test configuration.

  20. Control structure interactions in large space structures Analysis using energy approach. [for constant and pulsed thrusters

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Shrivastava, S. K.; Ried, R. C.; Manoharan, M. G.

    1983-01-01

    A simple energy approach to study the problem of control structure interactions in large space structures is presented. For the illustrative cases of free-free beam and free rectangular plate, the vibrational energy imparted during operation of constant and pulsed thrusters is found in a nondimensional form. Then based on a parametric study, suggestions are made on the choice of the thruster location and parameters to minimize the control structure interactions.

  1. Space Charge Saturated Sheath Regime and Electron Temperature Saturation in Hall Thrusters

    SciTech Connect

    Y. Raitses; D. Staack; A. Smirnov; N.J. Fisch

    2005-03-16

    Secondary electron emission in Hall thrusters is predicted to lead to space charge saturated wall sheaths resulting in enhanced power losses in the thruster channel. Analysis of experimentally obtained electron-wall collision frequency suggests that the electron temperature saturation, which occurs at high discharge voltages, appears to be caused by a decrease of the Joule heating rather than by the enhancement of the electron energy loss at the walls due to a strong secondary electron emission.

  2. The Development of Plasma Thrusters and Its Importance for Space Technology and Science Education at University of Brasilia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ferreira, Jose Leonardo; Calvoso, Lui; Gessini, Paolo; Ferreira, Ivan

    Since 2004 The Plasma Physics Laboratory of University of Brasilia (Brazil) is developing Hall Plasma Thurusters for Satellite station keeping and orbit control. The project is supported by CNPq, CAPES, FAP DF and from The Brazillian Space Agency-AEB. The project is part of The UNIESPAÇO Program for Space Activities Development in Brazillian Universities. In this work we are going to present the highlights of this project together with its vital contribution to include University of Brasilia in the Brazillian Space Program. Electric propulsion has already shown, over the years, its great advantages in being used as main and secondary thruster system of several space mission types. Between the many thruster concepts, one that has more tradition in flying real spacecraft is the Hall Effect Thruster (HET). These thrusters, first developed by the USSR in the 1960s, uses, in the traditional design, the radial magnetic field and axial electric field to trap electrons, ionize the gas and accelerate the plasma to therefore generate thrust. In contrast to the usual solution of using electromagnets to generate the magnetic field, the research group of the Plasma Physics Laboratory of University of Brasília has been working to develop new models of HETs that uses combined permanent magnets to generate the necessary magnetic field, with the main objective of saving electric power in the final system design. Since the beginning of this research line it was developed and implemented two prototypes of the Permanent Magnet Hall Thruster (PMHT). The first prototype, called P-HALL1, was successfully tested with the using of many diagnostics instruments, including, RF probe, Langmuir probe, Ion collector and Ion energy analyzer. The second prototype, P-HALL2, is currently under testing, and it’s planned the increasing of the plasma diagnostics and technology analysis, with the inclusion of a thrust balance, mass spectroscopy and Doppler broadening. We are also developing an

  3. Accelerated life test of sputtering and anode deposit spalling in a small mercury ion thruster

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Power, J. L.

    1975-01-01

    Tantalum and molybdenum sputtered from discharge chamber components during operation of a 5 centimeter diameter mercury ion thruster adhered much more strongly to coarsely grit blasted anode surfaces than to standard surfaces. Spalling of the sputtered coating did occur from a coarse screen anode surface but only in flakes less than a mesh unit long. The results were obtained in a 200 hour accelerated life test conducted at an elevated discharge potential of 64.6 volts. The test approximately reproduced the major sputter erosion and deposition effects that occur under normal operation but at approximately 75 times the normal rate. No discharge chamber component suffered sufficient erosion in the test to threaten its structural integrity or further serviceability. The test indicated that the use of tantalum-surfaced discharge chamber components in conjunction with a fine wire screen anode surface should cure the problems of sputter erosion and sputtered deposits spalling in long term operation of small mercury ion thrusters.

  4. Magnetic Shielding of the Acceleration Channel Walls in a Long-Life Hall Thruster

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Mikellides, Ioannis G.; Katz, Ira; Hofer, Richard R.; Goebel, Dan M.; de Grys, Kristi; Mathers, Alex

    2010-01-01

    In a Qualification Life Test (QLT) of the BPT-4000 Hall thruster that recently accumulated greater than 10,000 h it was found that the erosion of the acceleration channel practically stopped after approximately 5,600 h. Numerical simulations of this thruster using a 2-D axisymmetric, magnetic field-aligned-mesh (MFAM) plasma solver reveal that the process that led to this significant reduction of the erosion was multifaceted. It is found that when the channel receded from its early-in-life geometry to its steady-state configuration several changes in the near-wall plasma and sheath were induced by the magnetic field that, collectively, constituted an effective shielding of the walls from any significant ion bombardment. Because all such changes in the behavior of the ionized gas near the eroding surfaces were caused by the topology of the magnetic field there, we term this process "magnetic shielding."

  5. Ion Thruster and Power Processor Developed for the Deep Space 1 Mission

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Sovey, James S.

    1999-01-01

    The NASA Solar Electric Propulsion Technology Applications Readiness (NSTAR) Program has provided a single-string primary propulsion system to NASA's Deep Space 1 spacecraft. This spacecraft will carry about 81 kg of xenon propellant for the ion thruster, which can be throttled down from 2.3 to 0.5 kW as the spacecraft moves away from the Sun. The propellant load will provide about 20 months of propulsion at the one-half power throttle setpoint of 1.2 kW. This mission will validate the 2.5-kW ion propulsion system and will fly by the asteroid 1992 KD in 1999. If funding permits, Deep Space 1 also will encounter comets Wilson-Harrington and Borrelly in 2001. NASA Lewis Research Center's On-Board Propulsion Branch was responsible for the development of the 30-cm-diameter ion thruster, the 2.5-kW power processor unit (PPU), and the Digital Control and Interface Unit (DCIU) that controls the PPU/thruster/feed system and provides data and recovery from fault conditions. Lewis transferred the thruster and PPU technologies to the Hughes Electron Dynamics Division, which was selected to build two sets of flight thrusters, as well as the PPU's and DCIU's. Hughes subcontracted the DCIU development to Spectrum Astro Incorporated. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) was primarily responsible for the NSTAR project management, thruster lifetests, the feed system, diagnostics, and the propulsion subsystem integration. A total of four engineering model thrusters and three breadboard PPU's were built, integrated, and tested. More than 50 development tests were conducted along with thruster design verification tests of 2000 and 1000 hours. In addition, an 8000-hr life demonstration test was successfully completed and demonstrated wear-rates consistent with full-power lifetimes in excess of 12,000 hours.

  6. Hydrogen-oxygen space shuttle ACPS thruster technology review

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Gregory, J. W.; Herr, P. N.

    1972-01-01

    The generation of technology for injectors, cooled thrust chambers, valves, and ignition systems is discussed. The thrusters are designed to meet a unique and stringent set of requirements, including: long life for 100 mission reuses, high performance, light weight, ability to provide long duration firings as well as small impulse bits, ability to operate over wide ranges of propellant inlet conditions and to withstand reentry heating. The program has included evaluation of thrusters designed for ambient temperature and cold gaseous propellants at the vehicle interface.

  7. Impingement-Current-Erosion Characteristics of Accelerator Grids on Two-Grid Ion Thrusters

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Barker, Timothy

    1996-01-01

    Accelerator grid sputter erosion resulting from charge-exchange-ion impingement is considered to be a primary cause of failure for electrostatic ion thrusters. An experimental method was developed and implemented to measure erosion characteristics of ion-thruster accel-grids for two-grid systems as a function of beam current, accel-grid potential, and facility background pressure. Intricate accelerator grid erosion patterns, that are typically produced in a short time (a few hours), are shown. Accelerator grid volumetric and depth-erosion rates are calculated from these erosion patterns and reported for each of the parameters investigated. A simple theoretical volumetric erosion model yields results that are compared to experimental findings. Results from the model and experiments agree to within 10%, thereby verifying the testing technique. In general, the local distribution of erosion is concentrated in pits between three adjacent holes and trenches that join pits. The shapes of the pits and trenches are shown to be dependent upon operating conditions. Increases in beam current and the accel-grid voltage magnitude lead to deeper pits and trenches. Competing effects cause complex changes in depth-erosion rates as background pressure is increased. Shape factors that describe pits and trenches (i.e. ratio of the average erosion width to the maximum possible width) are also affected in relatively complex ways by changes in beam current, ac tel-grid voltage magnitude, and background pressure. In all cases, however, gross volumetric erosion rates agree with theoretical predictions.

  8. Performance of Solar Electric Powered Deep Space Missions Using Hall Thruster Propulsion

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Witzberger, Kevin E.; Manzella, David

    2006-01-01

    Power limited, low-thrust trajectories were assessed for missions to Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune utilizing a single Venus Gravity Assist (VGA) and a primary propulsion system based on either a 3-kW high voltage Hall thruster, of the type being developed by the NASA In-Space Propulsion Technology Program, or an 8-kW variant of this thruster. These Hall thrusters operate with specific impulses below 3,000 seconds. A trade study was conducted to examine mission parameters that include: net delivered mass (NDM), beginning-of-life (BOL) solar array power, heliocentric transfer time, required launch vehicle, number of operating thrusters, and throttle profile. The top performing spacecraft configuration was defined to be the one that delivered the highest mass for a range of transfer times. In order to evaluate the potential future benefit of using next generation Hall thrusters as the primary propulsion system, comparisons were made with the advanced state-of-the-art (ASOA), 7-kW, 4,100 second NASA's Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) for the same mission scenarios. For the BOL array powers considered in this study (less than 30 kW), the results show that the performance of the Hall thrusters, relative to NEXT, is largely dependant on the performance capability of the launch vehicle, and that at least a 10 percent performance gain, equating to at least an additional 200 kg dry mass at each target planet, is achieved over the higher specific impulse NEXT when launched on an Atlas 551.

  9. Accelerated testing of space batteries

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Mccallum, J.; Thomas, R. E.; Waite, J. H.

    1973-01-01

    An accelerated life test program for space batteries is presented that fully satisfies empirical, statistical, and physical criteria for validity. The program includes thermal and other nonmechanical stress analyses as well as mechanical stress, strain, and rate of strain measurements.

  10. Lorentz Force Accelerator Technology Investigated

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Pencil, Eric J.; LaPointe, Michael R.; Arrington, Lynn A.; Kamhawi, Hani; Benson, Scott W.; Hoskins, W. Andrew

    2004-01-01

    The NASA Glenn Research Center is developing Lorenz force accelerators (LFAs) for a wide variety of space applications. These range from the precision control of formation-flying spacecraft to the primary propulsion system for very high power interplanetary spacecraft. The specific thruster technologies being addressed are pulsed plasma thrusters (PPT) and magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) thrusters.

  11. Plasma flows in MPD thrusters

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Giannelli, Sebastiano; Andreussi, Tommaso; Pegoraro, Francesco; Andrenucci, Mariano

    2011-10-01

    A fundamental description of the plasma acceleration process in magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) thrusters is presented. The properties of plasma flows in self-field MPD thrusters are investigated by adopting a stationary, axisymmetric, resistive magnetohydrodynamic plasma model. First, the acceleration process in a cylindrical MPD channel is analyzed by neglecting the gasdynamic pressure term. A class of solutions is presented, which allows for a simple analytical treatment of the flow. The physical and mathematical nature of the flow is thus described in terms of two characteristic parameters: a dimensionless channel length, scaled with the plasma resistive length, and a dimensionless parameter which depends on the applied voltage. Then, the effect of gasdynamic pressure is investigated. The presented approach gives an effective description of the plasma acceleration process and defines a framework for the parametric analysis of plasma flows in MPD thrusters. Alta SpA: www.alta-space.com.

  12. Expanding the Capabilities of the Pulsed Plasma Thruster for In-Space and Atmospheric Operation

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Johnson, Ian Kronheim

    Of all in-space propulsion systems to date, the Pulsed Plasma Thruster (PPT) is unique in its simplicity and wide range of operational parameters. This study examined multiple uses of the thruster for in-space and atmospheric propulsion, as well as the creation of a CubeSat satellite and atmospheric airship as test beds for the thruster. The PPT was tested as a solid-propellant feed source for the High Power Helicon Thruster, a compact plasma source capable of generating order of magnitude higher plasma densities than comparable power level systems. Replacing the gaseous feed system reduced the thruster size and complexity, as well as allowing for extremely discrete discharges, minimizing the influence of wall effects. Teflon (C2F4) has been the traditional propellant for PPTs due to a high exhaust velocity and ability to ablate without surface modification over long durations. A number of alternative propellants, including minerals and metallics commonly found on asteroids, were tested for use with the PPT. Compounds with significant fractions of sulfur showed the highest performance increase, with specific thrusts double that of Teflon. A PPT with sulfur propellant designed for CubeSat operation, as well as the subsystems necessary for autonomous operation, was built and tested in the laboratory. The PPT was modified for use at atmospheric pressures where the impulse was well defined as a function of the discharge chamber volume, capacitor energy, and background pressure. To demonstrate that the air-breathing PPT was a viable concept the device was launched on two atmospheric balloon flights.

  13. Experimental validation of the dual positive and negative ion beam acceleration in the plasma propulsion with electronegative gases thruster

    SciTech Connect

    Rafalskyi, Dmytro Popelier, Lara; Aanesland, Ane

    2014-02-07

    The PEGASES (Plasma Propulsion with Electronegative Gases) thruster is a gridded ion thruster, where both positive and negative ions are accelerated to generate thrust. In this way, additional downstream neutralization by electrons is redundant. To achieve this, the thruster accelerates alternately positive and negative ions from an ion-ion plasma where the electron density is three orders of magnitude lower than the ion densities. This paper presents a first experimental study of the alternate acceleration in PEGASES, where SF{sub 6} is used as the working gas. Various electrostatic probes are used to investigate the source plasma potential and the energy, composition, and current of the extracted beams. We show here that the plasma potential control in such system is key parameter defining success of ion extraction and is sensitive to both parasitic electron current paths in the source region and deposition of sulphur containing dielectric films on the grids. In addition, large oscillations in the ion-ion plasma potential are found in the negative ion extraction phase. The oscillation occurs when the primary plasma approaches the grounded parts of the main core via sub-millimetres technological inputs. By controlling and suppressing the various undesired effects, we achieve perfect ion-ion plasma potential control with stable oscillation-free operation in the range of the available acceleration voltages (±350 V). The measured positive and negative ion currents in the beam are about 10 mA for each component at RF power of 100 W and non-optimized extraction system. Two different energy analyzers with and without magnetic electron suppression system are used to measure and compare the negative and positive ion and electron fluxes formed by the thruster. It is found that at alternate ion-ion extraction the positive and negative ion energy peaks are similar in areas and symmetrical in position with +/− ion energy corresponding to the amplitude of the applied

  14. Accelerated testing of space mechanisms

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Murray, S. Frank; Heshmat, Hooshang

    1995-01-01

    This report contains a review of various existing life prediction techniques used for a wide range of space mechanisms. Life prediction techniques utilized in other non-space fields such as turbine engine design are also reviewed for applicability to many space mechanism issues. The development of new concepts on how various tribological processes are involved in the life of the complex mechanisms used for space applications are examined. A 'roadmap' for the complete implementation of a tribological prediction approach for complex mechanical systems including standard procedures for test planning, analytical models for life prediction and experimental verification of the life prediction and accelerated testing techniques are discussed. A plan is presented to demonstrate a method for predicting the life and/or performance of a selected space mechanism mechanical component.

  15. Study and Developement of Compact Permanent Magnet Hall Thrusters for Future Brazillian Space Missions

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ferreira, Jose Leonardo; Martins, Alexandre; Cerda, Rodrigo

    2016-07-01

    The Plasma Physics Laboratory of UnB has been developing a Permanent Magnet Hall Thruster (PHALL) for the UNIESPAÇO program, part of the Space Activities Program conducted by AEB- The Brazillian Space Agency since 2004. Electric propulsion is now a very successful method for primary and secondary propulsion systems. It is essential for several existing geostationary satellite station keeping systems and for deep space long duration solar system missions, where the thrusting system can be designed to be used on orbit transfer maneuvering and/or for satellite attitude control in long term space missions. Applications of compact versions of Permanent Magnet Hall Thrusters on future brazillian space missions are needed and foreseen for the coming years beginning with the use of small divergent cusp field (DCFH) Hall Thrusters type on CUBESATS ( 5-10 kg , 1W-5 W power consumption) and on Micro satellites ( 50- 100 kg, 10W-100W). Brazillian (AEB) and German (DLR) space agencies and research institutions are developing a new rocket dedicated to small satellite launching. The VLM- Microsatellite Launch Vehicle. The development of PHALL compact versions can also be important for the recently proposed SBG system, a future brazillian geostationary satellite system that is already been developed by an international consortium of brazillian and foreign space industries. The exploration of small bodies in the Solar System with spacecraft has been done by several countries with increasing frequency in these past twenty five years. Since their historical beginning on the sixties, most of the Solar System missions were based on gravity assisted trajectories very much depended on planet orbit positioning relative to the Sun and the Earth. The consequence was always the narrowing of the mission launch window. Today, the need for Solar System icy bodies in situ exploration requires less dependence on gravity assisted maneuvering and new high precision low thrust navigation methods

  16. A study of cylindrical Hall thruster for low power space applications

    SciTech Connect

    Y. Raitses; N.J. Fisch; K.M. Ertmer; C.A. Burlingame

    2000-07-27

    A 9 cm cylindrical thruster with a ceramic channel exhibited performance comparable to the state-of-the-art Hall thrusters at low and moderate power levels. Significantly, its operation is not accompanied by large amplitude discharge low frequency oscillations. Preliminary experiments on a 2 cm cylindrical thruster suggest the possibility of a high performance micro Hall thruster.

  17. The MPD arcjet thruster system for Electric Propulsion Experiment onboard Space Flyer Unit

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Toki, Kyoichiro; Shimizu, Yukio; Kuriki, Kyoichi; Suzuki, Hiroshi; Kunii, Yoshinori

    The Electric Propulsion Experiment (EPEX) will be tested in the Space Flyer Unit Mission One (SFU-1) as the first space-flown hydrazine MPD arcjet thruster system in the world. The development was continued after the breadboard model system endurance test in 1988 to start the engineering model fabrication/test. Presently the components of EPEX are scheduled to be integrated in a Payload Unit (PLU) box together with two other experiments in order to dedicate them to a system integration test following several environment tests.

  18. High-Power Magnetoplasmadynamic Thruster Being Developed

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    LaPointe, Michael R.

    2001-01-01

    High-power electromagnetic thrusters have been proposed as primary in-space propulsion options for several of the bold new interplanetary and deep space missions envisioned by the Human Exploration and Development of Space (HEDS) Strategic Enterprise. As the lead center for electric propulsion, the NASA Glenn Research Center is actively involved in the design, development, and testing of high-power electromagnetic technologies to meet these demanding mission requirements. One concept of particular interest is the magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) thruster, shown schematically in the preceding figure. In its basic form, the MPD thruster consists of a central cathode surrounded by a concentric cylindrical anode. A high-current arc is struck between the anode and cathode, which ionizes and accelerates a gas (plasma) propellant. In the self-field version of the thruster, an azimuthal magnetic field generated by the current returning through the cathode interacts with the radial discharge current flowing through the plasma to produce an axial electromagnetic body force, providing thrust. In applied field-versions of the thruster, a magnetic field coil surrounding the anode is used to provide additional radial and axial magnetic fields that can help stabilize and accelerate the plasma propellant. The following figure shows an experimental megawatt-class MPD thruster developed at Glenn. The MPD thruster is fitted inside a magnetic field coil, which in turn is mounted on a thrust stand supported by thin metal flexures. A calibrated position transducer is used to determine the force provided by the thruster as a function of thrust stand displacement. Power to the thruster is supplied by a 250-kJ capacitor bank, which provides up to 30- MW to the thruster for a period of 2 msec. This short period of time is sufficient to establish thruster performance similar to steady-state operation, and it allows a number of thruster designs to be quickly and economically evaluated. In concert

  19. Laser Fine-Adjustment Thruster For Space Vehicles

    SciTech Connect

    Rezunkov, Yu. A.; Egorov, M. S.; Repina, E. V.; Safronov, A. L.; Rebrov, S. G.

    2010-05-06

    To the present time, a few laser propulsion engine devices have been developed by using dominant mechanisms of laser propulsion. Generally these mechanisms are laser ablation, laser breakdown of gases, and laser detonation waves that are induced due to extraction of the internal energy of polymer propellants. In the paper, we consider the Aero-Space Laser Propulsion Engine (ASLPE) developed earlier, in which all of these mechanisms are realized via interaction of laser radiation with polymers both in continuous wave (CW) and in repetitively pulsed modes of laser operation. The ASLPE is considered to be exploited as a unit of a laser propulsion device being arranged onboard space vehicles moving around the Earth or in interplanetary missions and intended to correct the vehicles orbits. To produce a thrust, a power of the solar pumped lasers designed to the present time is considered in the paper. The problem of increasing the efficiency of the laser propulsion device is analyzed as applied to space missions of vehicles by optimizing the laser propulsion propellant composition.

  20. Toroidal Plasma Thruster for Interplanetary and Interstellar Space Flights

    SciTech Connect

    N.N. Gorelenkov; L.E. Zakharov; and M.V. Gorelenkova

    2001-07-11

    This work involves a conceptual assessment for using the toroidal fusion reactor for deep space interplanetary and interstellar missions. Toroidal thermonuclear fusion reactors, such as tokamaks and stellarators, are unique for space propulsion, allowing for a design with the magnetic configuration localized inside toroidal magnetic field coils. Plasma energetic ions, including charged fusion products, can escape such a closed configuration at certain conditions, a result of the vertical drift in toroidal rippled magnetic field. Escaping particles can be used for direct propulsion (since toroidal drift is directed one way vertically) or to create and heat externally confined plasma, so that the latter can be used for propulsion. Deuterium-tritium fusion neutrons with an energy of 14.1 MeV also can be used for direct propulsion. A special design allows neutrons to escape the shield and the blanket of the tokamak. This provides a direct (partial) conversion of the fusion energy into the directed motion of the propellant. In contrast to other fusion concepts proposed for space propulsion, this concept utilizes the natural drift motion of charged particles out of the closed magnetic field configuration.

  1. Plasmas for space propulsion

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ahedo, Eduardo

    2011-12-01

    Plasma thrusters are challenging the monopoly of chemical thrusters in space propulsion. The specific energy that can be deposited into a plasma beam is orders of magnitude larger than the specific chemical energy of known fuels. Plasma thrusters constitute a vast family of devices ranging from already commercial thrusters to incipient laboratory prototypes. Figures of merit in plasma propulsion are discussed. Plasma processes and conditions differ widely from one thruster to another, with the pre-eminence of magnetized, weakly collisional plasmas. Energy is imparted to the plasma via either energetic electron injection, biased electrodes or electromagnetic irradiation. Plasma acceleration can be electrothermal, electrostatic or electromagnetic. Plasma-wall interaction affects energy deposition and erosion of thruster elements, and thus is central for thruster efficiency and lifetime. Magnetic confinement and magnetic nozzles are present in several devices. Oscillations and turbulent transport are intrinsic to the performances of some thrusters. Several thrusters are selected in order to discuss these relevant plasma phenomena.

  2. Hydrogen-oxygen auxiliary propulsion for the space shuttle. Volume 2: Low pressure thrusters

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1973-01-01

    An abbreviated program was conducted to investigate igniter, injector, and thrust chamber technology for a 10.3 N/cm2 (15 psia) chamber pressure, 6660 N (1500 lbf) gaseous H2/O2 APS thruster for the Space Shuttle Vehicle. Successful catalytic igniter tests were conducted with ambient and cold propellants. Injector testing with a heat sink chamber (MR = 2.5, area ratio = 5.0) gave a measured specific impulse of 386 sec with 11% of the fuel used as film coolant. This coolant flow rate was demonstrated to be more than adequate to cool a spun adiabatic wall, flightweight thrust chamber.

  3. Study and Developement of Compact Permanent Magnet Hall Thrusters for Future Brazillian Space Missions

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ferreira, Jose Leonardo; Martins, Alexandre; Cerda, Rodrigo

    2016-07-01

    The Plasma Physics Laboratory of UnB has been developing a Permanent Magnet Hall Thruster (PHALL) for the UNIESPAÇO program, part of the Space Activities Program conducted by AEB- The Brazillian Space Agency since 2004. Electric propulsion is now a very successful method for primary and secondary propulsion systems. It is essential for several existing geostationary satellite station keeping systems and for deep space long duration solar system missions, where the thrusting system can be designed to be used on orbit transfer maneuvering and/or for satellite attitude control in long term space missions. Applications of compact versions of Permanent Magnet Hall Thrusters on future brazillian space missions are needed and foreseen for the coming years beginning with the use of small divergent cusp field (DCFH) Hall Thrusters type on CUBESATS ( 5-10 kg , 1W-5 W power consumption) and on Micro satellites ( 50- 100 kg, 10W-100W). Brazillian (AEB) and German (DLR) space agencies and research institutions are developing a new rocket dedicated to small satellite launching. The VLM- Microsatellite Launch Vehicle. The development of PHALL compact versions can also be important for the recently proposed SBG system, a future brazillian geostationary satellite system that is already been developed by an international consortium of brazillian and foreign space industries. The exploration of small bodies in the Solar System with spacecraft has been done by several countries with increasing frequency in these past twenty five years. Since their historical beginning on the sixties, most of the Solar System missions were based on gravity assisted trajectories very much depended on planet orbit positioning relative to the Sun and the Earth. The consequence was always the narrowing of the mission launch window. Today, the need for Solar System icy bodies in situ exploration requires less dependence on gravity assisted maneuvering and new high precision low thrust navigation methods

  4. Conical solar absorber/thruster for space propulsion

    SciTech Connect

    Strumpf, H.J.; Borghese, J.B.; Keating, R.F.

    1995-11-01

    Solar-powered space propulsion uses solar heating of a propellant such as hydrogen to impart thrust to a rocket when the hydrogen exists through an appropriately designed nozzle. Because of the low molecular weight of hydrogen, exhaust velocities, and hence specific impulses, can potentially be much greater than for chemical combustion of fuel. A very efficient solar thermal absorber design has been developed. The design consists of two interwound helical coils of rhenium tubing, through which the propellant flows to be heated before being exhausted out a rhenium nozzle. The conical absorbing surface is configured to conform to the extreme solar rays from a solar concentrator; i.e., the receiver apex angle is designed to match the concentrator apex angle. This shape helps to minimize the amount of reflected or emitted energy lost through the receiver aperture.

  5. Further study of the effect of the downstream plasma condition on accelerator grid erosion in an ion thruster

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Peng, Xiaohang; Ruyten, Wilhelmus M.; Keefer, Dennis

    1992-01-01

    Further numerical results are presented of earlier particle-in-cell/Monte Carlo calculations of accelerator grid erosion in an ion thruster. A comparison between numerical and experimental results suggests that the accelerator grid impingement is primarily due to ions created far downstream from the accelerator grid. In particular, for the same experimental conditions as those of Monheiser and Wilbur at Colorado State University, it is found that a downstream plasma density of 2 x 10 exp 14/cu m is required to give the same ratio of accelerator grid impingement current to beam current (5 percent). For this condition, a potential hill is found in the downstream region of 2.5 V.

  6. Miniature Bipolar Electrostatic Ion Thruster

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Hartley, Frank T.

    2006-01-01

    The figure presents a concept of a bipolar miniature electrostatic ion thruster for maneuvering a small spacecraft. The ionization device in the proposed thruster would be a 0.1-micron-thick dielectric membrane with metal electrodes on both sides. Small conical holes would be micromachined through the membrane and electrodes. An electric potential of the order of a volt applied between the membrane electrodes would give rise to an electric field of the order of several mega-volts per meter in the submicron gap between the electrodes. An electric field of this magnitude would be sufficient to ionize all the molecules that enter the holes. In a thruster-based on this concept, one or more propellant gases would be introduced into such a membrane ionizer. Unlike in larger prior ion thrusters, all of the propellant molecules would be ionized. This thruster would be capable of bipolar operation. There would be two accelerator grids - one located forward and one located aft of the membrane ionizer. In one mode of operation, which one could denote the forward mode, positive ions leaving the ionizer on the backside would be accelerated to high momentum by an electric field between the ionizer and an accelerator grid. Electrons leaving the ionizer on the front side would be ejected into free space by a smaller accelerating field. The equality of the ion and electron currents would eliminate the need for an additional electron- or ion-emitting device to keep the spacecraft charge-neutral. In another mode of operation, which could denote the reverse mode, the polarities of the voltages applied to the accelerator grids and to the electrodes of the membrane ionizer would be the reverse of those of the forward mode. The reversal of electric fields would cause the ion and electrons to be ejected in the reverse of their forward mode directions, thereby giving rise to thrust in the direction opposite that of the forward mode.

  7. Permanent magnet Hall Thrusters development and applications on future brazilian space missions

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ferreira, Jose Leonardo; Martins, Alexandre A.; Miranda, Rodrigo; Schelling, Adriane; de Souza Alves, Lais; Gonçalves Costa, Ernesto; de Oliveira Coelho Junior, Helbert; Castelo Branco, Artur; de Oliveira Lopes, Felipe Nathan

    2015-10-01

    The Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPLUnB) has been developing a Permanent Magnet Hall Thruster (PHALL) for the Space Research Program for Universities (UNIESPAÇO), part of the Brazilian Space Activities Program (PNAE) since 2004. The PHALL project consists on a plasma source design, construction and characterization of the Hall type that will function as a plasma propulsion engine and characterized by several plasma diagnostics sensors. PHALL is based on a plasma source in which a Hall current is generated inside a cylindrical annular channel with an axial electric field produced by a ring anode and a radial magnetic field produced by permanent magnets. In this work it is shown a brief description of the plasma propulsion engine, its diagnostics instrumentation and possible applications of PHALL on orbit transfer maneuvering for future Brazilian geostationary satellite space missions.

  8. LLNL contributions to MPD thrusters for SEI

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Hooper, Edwin Bickford

    1991-01-01

    Some of the topics covered with respect to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's (LLNL's) contributions to Magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) Thrusters for the Space Exploration Initiative (SEI) include: an IR camera, plasma-induced erosion/redeposition, the Mirror Fusion Test Facility-B (MFTF-B), the Thruster Lifetime Test Facility, the RACE Compact Torus Accelerator Facility, and a RACE program summary. Some of the other topics addressed include: flux contours for HAM simulation, comparison of RACE data of plasma ring formation with the HAM 2-D magnetohydrodynamic code, and the 2-D Ring Acceleration Code (TRAC).

  9. Space charge compensation in laser particle accelerators

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Steinhauer, L. C.; Kimura, W. D.

    1999-07-01

    Laser particle acceleration (LPA) involves the acceleration of particle beams by electromagnetic waves with relatively short wavelength compared with conventional radio-frequency systems. These short length scales raise the question whether space charge effects may be a limiting factor in LPA performance. This is analyzed in two parts of an accelerator system, the acceleration sections and the drift region of the prebuncher. In the prebuncher, space charge can actually be converted to an advantage for minimizing the energy spread. In the accelerator sections, the laser fields can compensate for space charge forces, but the compensation becomes weaker for high beam energy.

  10. Metallographic Preparation of Space Shuttle Reaction Control System Thruster Electron Beam Welds for Electron Backscatter Diffraction

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Martinez, James

    2011-01-01

    A Space Shuttle Reaction Control System (RCS) thruster failed during a firing test at the NASA White Sands Test Facility (WSTF), Las Cruces, New Mexico. The firing test was being conducted to investigate a previous electrical malfunction. A number of cracks were found associated with the fuel closure plate/injector assembly (Fig 1). The firing test failure generated a flight constraint to the launch of STS-133. A team comprised of several NASA centers and other research institutes was assembled to investigate and determine the root cause of the failure. The JSC Materials Evaluation Laboratory was asked to compare and characterize the outboard circumferential electron beam (EB) weld between the fuel closure plate (Titanium 6Al-4V) and the injector (Niobium C-103 alloy) of four different RCS thrusters, including the failed RCS thruster. Several metallographic challenges in grinding/polishing, and particularly in etching were encountered because of the differences in hardness, ductility, and chemical resistance between the two alloys and the bimetallic weld. Segments from each thruster were sectioned from the outboard weld. The segments were hot-compression mounted using a conductive, carbon-filled epoxy. A grinding/polishing procedure for titanium alloys was used [1]. This procedure worked well on the titanium; but a thin, disturbed layer was visible on the niobium surface by means of polarized light. Once polished, each sample was micrographed using bright field, differential interference contrast optical microscopy, and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) using a backscatter electron (BSE) detector. No typical weld anomalies were observed in any of the cross sections. However, areas of large atomic contrast were clearly visible in the weld nugget, particularly along fusion line interfaces between the titanium and the niobium. This prompted the need to better understand the chemistry and microstructure of the weld (Fig 2). Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy (EDS

  11. The NASA Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT): NASA's Next Step for U.S. Deep Space Propulsion

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Schmidt, George R.; Patterson, Michael J.; Benson, Scott W.

    2008-01-01

    NASA s Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) project is developing next generation ion propulsion technologies to enhance the performance and lower the costs of future NASA space science missions. This is being accomplished by producing Engineering Model (EM) and Prototype Model (PM) components, validating these via qualification-level and integrated system testing, and preparing the transition of NEXT technologies to flight system development. The project is currently completing one of the final milestones of the effort, that is operation of an integrated NEXT Ion Propulsion System (IPS) in a simulated space environment. This test will advance the NEXT system to a NASA Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 6 (i.e., operation of a prototypical system in a representative environment), and will confirm its readiness for flight. Besides its promise for upcoming NASA science missions, NEXT may have excellent potential for future commercial and international spacecraft applications.

  12. Operational characteristics and plasma measurements in cylindrical Hall thrusters

    SciTech Connect

    Shirasaki, Atsushi; Tahara, Hirokazu

    2007-04-01

    The cylindrical Hall thruster (CHT) is an attractive approach to achieve a long lifetime thruster operation especially in low power space applications. Because of the larger volume-to-surface ratio than conventional coaxial Hall thrusters, the cylindrical Hall thrusters are characterized by a reduced heating of the thruster parts and potential lower erosion. Existing CHTs can feature a short coaxial channel in order to sustain a high ionization in the thruster discharge. A 5.6 cm diameter cylindrical Hall thruster was developed and operated with and without a short coaxial region of the thruster channel, in the power range of 70-300 W. It is shown that the CHT without coaxial region can operate stable and achieve higher thrust efficiency, 22%-32% more than that with a coaxial region. Plasma probe measurements inside the thruster channel and ion energy measurements in the plasma plume suggest that the ionization/acceleration region in the CHT is located near the anode region where a radial magnetic field is stronger.

  13. 8-cm mercury ion thruster system technology

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1974-01-01

    The technology status of 8-cm diameter electron bombardment ion thrusters is presented. Much of the technology resulting from the 5-cm diameter thruster has been adapted and improved upon to increase the reliability, durability, and efficiency of the 8-cm thruster. Technology discussed includes: dependence of neutralizer tip erosion upon neutralizer flow rate; impregnated and rolled-foil insert cathode performance and life testing; neutralizer position studies; thruster ion beam profile measurements; high voltage pulse ignition; high utilization ion machined accelerator grids; deposition internal and external to the thruster; thruster vectoring systems; thruster cycling life testing and thruster system weights for typical mission applications.

  14. Development of a high power microwave thruster, with a magnetic nozzle, for space applications

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Power, John L.; Chapman, Randall A.

    1989-01-01

    This paper describes the current development of a high-power microwave electrothermal thruster (MET) concept at the NASA Lewis Research Center. Such a thruster would be employed in space for applications such as orbit raining, orbit maneuvering, station change, and possibly trans-lunar or trans-planetary propulsion of spacecraft. The MET concept employs low frequency continuous wave (CW) microwave power to create and continuously pump energy into a flowing propellant gas at relative high pressure via a plasma discharge. The propellant is heated to very high bulk temperatures while passing through the plasma discharge region and then is expanded through a throat-nozzle assembly to produce thrust, as in a conventional rocket engine. Apparatus, which is described, is being assembled at NASA Lewis to test the MET concept to CW power levels of 30 kW at a frequency of 915 MHz. The microwave energy is applied in a resonant cavity applicator and is absorbed by a plasma discharge in the flowing propellant. The ignited plasma acts as a lossy load, and with optimal tuning, energy absorption efficiencies over 95 percent (based on the applied microwave power) are expected. Nitrogen, helium, and hydrogen will be tested as propellants in the MET, at discharge chamber pressures to 10 atm.

  15. Optimization of Cylindrical Hall Thrusters

    SciTech Connect

    Yevgeny Raitses, Artem Smirnov, Erik Granstedt, and Nathaniel J. Fi

    2007-07-24

    The cylindrical Hall thruster features high ionization efficiency, quiet operation, and ion acceleration in a large volume-to-surface ratio channel with performance comparable with the state-of-the-art annular Hall thrusters. These characteristics were demonstrated in low and medium power ranges. Optimization of miniaturized cylindrical thrusters led to performance improvements in the 50-200W input power range, including plume narrowing, increased thruster efficiency, reliable discharge initiation, and stable operation. __________________________________________________

  16. Optimization of Cylindrical Hall Thrusters

    SciTech Connect

    Yevgeny Raitses, Artem Smirnov, Erik Granstedt, and Nathaniel J. Fisch

    2007-11-27

    The cylindrical Hall thruster features high ionization efficiency, quiet operation, and ion acceleration in a large volume-to-surface ratio channel with performance comparable with the state-of-the-art annular Hall thrusters. These characteristics were demonstrated in low and medium power ranges. Optimization of miniaturized cylindrical thrusters led to performance improvements in the 50-200W input power range, including plume narrowing, increased thruster efficiency, reliable discharge initiation, and stable operation.

  17. Cylindrical geometry hall thruster

    DOEpatents

    Raitses, Yevgeny; Fisch, Nathaniel J.

    2002-01-01

    An apparatus and method for thrusting plasma, utilizing a Hall thruster with a cylindrical geometry, wherein ions are accelerated in substantially the axial direction. The apparatus is suitable for operation at low power. It employs small size thruster components, including a ceramic channel, with the center pole piece of the conventional annular design thruster eliminated or greatly reduced. Efficient operation is accomplished through magnetic fields with a substantial radial component. The propellant gas is ionized at an optimal location in the thruster. A further improvement is accomplished by segmented electrodes, which produce localized voltage drops within the thruster at optimally prescribed locations. The apparatus differs from a conventional Hall thruster, which has an annular geometry, not well suited to scaling to small size, because the small size for an annular design has a great deal of surface area relative to the volume.

  18. Study of applied magnetic field magnetoplasmadynamic thrusters with particle-in-cell and Monte Carlo collision. II. Investigation of acceleration mechanisms

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Tang, Hai-Bin; Cheng, Jiao; Liu, Chang; York, Thomas M.

    2012-07-01

    The particle-in-cell method previously described in paper (I) has been applied to the investigation of acceleration mechanisms in applied-field magnetoplasmadynamic thrusters. This new approach is an alternative to magnetohydrodynamics models and allows nonlocal dynamic effects of particles and improved transport properties. It was used to model a 100 kW, steady-state, applied-field, argon magnetoplasmadynamic thruster to study the physical acceleration processes with discharge currents of 1000-1500 A, mass flow rates of 0.025-0.1 g/s and applied magnetic field strengths of 0.034-0.102 T. The total thrust calculations were used to verify the theoretical approach by comparison with experimental data. Investigations of the acceleration model offer an underlying understanding of applied-field magnetoplasmadynamic thrusters, including the following conclusions: (1) swirl acceleration mechanism is the dominant contributor to the plasma acceleration, and self-magnetic, Hall, gas-dynamic, and swirl acceleration mechanisms are in an approximate ratio of 1:10:10:100; (2) the Hall acceleration produced mainly by electron swirl is insensitive to the change of externally applied magnetic field and shows only slight increases when the current is raised; (3) self-magnetic acceleration is normally negligible for all cases, while the gas-dynamic acceleration contribution increases with increasing applied magnetic field strength, discharge current, and mass flow rate.

  19. Study of applied magnetic field magnetoplasmadynamic thrusters with particle-in-cell and Monte Carlo collision. II. Investigation of acceleration mechanisms

    SciTech Connect

    Tang Haibin; Cheng Jiao; Liu Chang; York, Thomas M.

    2012-07-15

    The particle-in-cell method previously described in paper (I) has been applied to the investigation of acceleration mechanisms in applied-field magnetoplasmadynamic thrusters. This new approach is an alternative to magnetohydrodynamics models and allows nonlocal dynamic effects of particles and improved transport properties. It was used to model a 100 kW, steady-state, applied-field, argon magnetoplasmadynamic thruster to study the physical acceleration processes with discharge currents of 1000-1500 A, mass flow rates of 0.025-0.1 g/s and applied magnetic field strengths of 0.034-0.102 T. The total thrust calculations were used to verify the theoretical approach by comparison with experimental data. Investigations of the acceleration model offer an underlying understanding of applied-field magnetoplasmadynamic thrusters, including the following conclusions: (1) swirl acceleration mechanism is the dominant contributor to the plasma acceleration, and self-magnetic, Hall, gas-dynamic, and swirl acceleration mechanisms are in an approximate ratio of 1:10:10:100; (2) the Hall acceleration produced mainly by electron swirl is insensitive to the change of externally applied magnetic field and shows only slight increases when the current is raised; (3) self-magnetic acceleration is normally negligible for all cases, while the gas-dynamic acceleration contribution increases with increasing applied magnetic field strength, discharge current, and mass flow rate.

  20. NASA's Hall Thruster Program 2002

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Jankovsky, Robert S.; Jacobson, David T.; Pinero, Luis R.; Manzella, David H.; Hofer, Richard R.; Peterson, Peter Y.

    2002-01-01

    The NASA Hall thruster program currently supports a number of tasks related to high power thruster development for a number of customers including the Energetics Program (formerly called the Space-based Program), the Space Solar Power Program, and the In-space Propulsion Program. In program year 2002, two tasks were central to the NASA Hall thruster program: 1) the development of a laboratory Hall thruster capable of providing high thrust at high power-, and 2) investigations into operation of Hall thrusters at high specific impulse. In addition to these two primary thruster development activities, there are a number of other on-going activities supported by the NASA Hall thruster program. These additional activities are related to issues such as high-power power processor architecture, thruster lifetime, and spacecraft integration.

  1. A permanent-magnet helicon thruster

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Chen, Francis F.

    2014-10-01

    Gridded ion thrusters are the classical method for propelling spacecraft to their designed orbital velocities. These thrusters generate electrons with a thermionic cathode and accelerate them with positive grids, creating a plasma. Ions are extracted from the plasma and accelerated with another grid and ejected from the spacecraft to propel it. An external electron source is used to neutralize the ion beam, preventing the spacecraft from charging up negatively. Hall thrusters also accelerate ions electrostatically, but the electrons are held back not by grids but by a magnetic field. A cool electron source is needed here also. Helicon thrusters eject neutral plasma, and the ions are given a kick in an external ``double layer,'' which forms as a sheath in free space. We have miniaturized a helicon thruster by using a permanent magnet over a small discharge tube. The ejected plasma is measured with a retarding-field ion analyzer. At low pressures, the RFID peaks around 27 eV and can be increased by biasing the top plate, thus achieving a reasonable specific impulse.

  2. Development of D+3He Fusion Electric Thrusters and Power Supplies for Space

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Morse, Thomas M.

    1994-07-01

    Development of D+3He Fusion Electric Thrusters (FET) and Power Supplies (FPS) should occur at a lunar base because of the following: availability of helium-3, a vacuum better than on Earth, low K in shade reachable by radiant cooling, supply of ``high temp'' superconducting ceramic-metals, and a low G environment. The early FET will be much smaller than an Apollo engine, with specific impulse of 10,000-100,000-s. Solar power and low G will aid early development. To counter the effect of low G on humans, centrifuges will be employed for sleeping and resting. Work will be done by telerobotic view control. The FPS will be of comparable size, and will generate power mainly by having replaceable rectennas, resonant to the fusion synchrotron radiation. FPSs are used for house keeping power and initiating superconduction. Spaceships will carry up to ten FETs and two FPSs. In addition to fusion fuel, the FET will inject H or Li low mass propellant into the fusion chamber. Developing an FET would be difficult on Earth. FET spaceships will park between missions in L1, and an FET Bus will fetch humans/supplies from Moon and Earth. Someday FETs, with rocket assist, will lift spaceships from Earth, and make space travel to planets far cheaper, faster, and safer, than at present. Too long a delay due to the space station, or the huge cost of getting into space by current means, will damage the morale of the space program.

  3. Acceleration Environment of the International Space Station

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    McPherson, Kevin; Kelly, Eric; Keller, Jennifer

    2009-01-01

    Measurement of the microgravity acceleration environment on the International Space Station has been accomplished by two accelerometer systems since 2001. The Microgravity Acceleration Measurement System records the quasi-steady microgravity environment, including the influences of aerodynamic drag, vehicle rotation, and venting effects. Measurement of the vibratory/transient regime, comprised of vehicle, crew, and equipment disturbances, has been accomplished by the Space Acceleration Measurement System-II. Until the arrival of the Columbus Orbital Facility and the Japanese Experiment Module, the location of these sensors, and therefore, the measurement of the microgravity acceleration environment, has been limited to within the United States Laboratory. Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency has developed a vibratory acceleration measurement system called the Microgravity Measurement Apparatus which will be deployed within the Japanese Experiment Module to make distributed measurements of the Japanese Experiment Module's vibratory acceleration environment. Two Space Acceleration Measurement System sensors from the United States Laboratory will be re-deployed to support vibratory acceleration data measurement within the Columbus Orbital Facility. The additional measurement opportunities resulting from the arrival of these new laboratories allows Principal Investigators with facilities located in these International Space Station research laboratories to obtain microgravity acceleration data in support of their sensitive experiments. The Principal Investigator Microgravity Services project, at NASA Glenn Research Center, in Cleveland, Ohio, has supported acceleration measurement systems and the microgravity scientific community through the processing, characterization, distribution, and archival of the microgravity acceleration data obtained from the International Space Station acceleration measurement systems. This paper summarizes the PIMS capabilities available

  4. Magnetoplasmadynamic thruster applications

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Pawlik, E. V.

    1976-01-01

    Advance study activities within NASA indicate that electric propulsion will be required to make certain types of potential missions feasible. The large power levels under consideration make magnetoplasmadynamic thrusters a good candidate for these applications since this type of electric thruster is best suited to operation at high power levels. This paper examines the status of the magnetoplasmadynamic thruster and compares it to the ion thruster which also is a candidate. The use of these two types of electric propulsion devices for orbit raising of a self-powered large satellite is examined from a cost standpoint. In addition the use of nuclear electric propulsion is described for use as both a near-earth space tug and for an interplanetary exploration vehicle. These preliminary examinations indicate that the magnetoplasmadynamic thruster is the lowest cost thruster and therefore merits serious consideration for these applications.

  5. Ion beam thruster shield

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Power, J. L. (Inventor)

    1976-01-01

    An ion thruster beam shield is provided that comprises a cylindrical housing that extends downstream from the ion thruster and a plurality of annular vanes which are spaced along the length of the housing, and extend inwardly from the interior wall of the housing. The shield intercepts and stops all charge exchange and beam ions, neutral propellant, and sputter products formed due to the interaction of beam and shield emanating from the ion thruster outside of a fixed conical angle from the thruster axis. Further, the shield prevents the sputter products formed during the operation of the engine from escaping the interior volume of the shield.

  6. Space Experiments with Particle Accelerators (SEPAC)

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Roberts, W. T.

    1985-01-01

    The space experiments with particle accelerators (SEPAC) instruments consist of an electron accelerator, a plasma accelerator, a neutral gas (N2) release device, particle and field diagnostic instruments, and a low light level television system. These instruments are used to accomplish multiple experiments: to study beam particle interactions and other plasma processes; as probes to investigate magnetospheric processes; and as perturbation devices to study energy coupling mechanisms in the magnetosphere, ionosphere, and upper atmosphere.

  7. The Impact of Back-Sputtered Carbon on the Accelerator Grid Wear Rates of the NEXT and NSTAR Ion Thrusters

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Soulas, George C.

    2013-01-01

    A study was conducted to quantify the impact of back-sputtered carbon on the downstream accelerator grid erosion rates of the NASA's Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) Long Duration Test (LDT1). A similar analysis that was conducted for the NASA's Solar Electric Propulsion Technology Applications Readiness Program (NSTAR) Life Demonstration Test (LDT2) was used as a foundation for the analysis developed herein. A new carbon surface coverage model was developed that accounted for multiple carbon adlayers before complete surface coverage is achieved. The resulting model requires knowledge of more model inputs, so they were conservatively estimated using the results of past thin film sputtering studies and particle reflection predictions. In addition, accelerator current densities across the grid were rigorously determined using an ion optics code to determine accelerator current distributions and an algorithm to determine beam current densities along a grid using downstream measurements. The improved analysis was applied to the NSTAR test results for evaluation. The improved analysis demonstrated that the impact of back-sputtered carbon on pit and groove wear rate for the NSTAR LDT2 was negligible throughout most of eroded grid radius. The improved analysis also predicted the accelerator current density for transition from net erosion to net deposition considerably more accurately than the original analysis. The improved analysis was used to estimate the impact of back-sputtered carbon on the accelerator grid pit and groove wear rate of the NEXT Long Duration Test (LDT1). Unlike the NSTAR analysis, the NEXT analysis was more challenging because the thruster was operated for extended durations at various operating conditions and was unavailable for measurements because the test is ongoing. As a result, the NEXT LDT1 estimates presented herein are considered preliminary until the results of future post-test analyses are incorporated. The worst-case impact of carbon

  8. The Impact of Back-Sputtered Carbon on the Accelerator Grid Wear Rates of the NEXT and NSTAR Ion Thrusters

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Soulas, George C.

    2013-01-01

    A study was conducted to quantify the impact of back-sputtered carbon on the downstream accelerator grid erosion rates of the NEXT (NASA's Evolutionary Xenon Thruster) Long Duration Test (LDT1). A similar analysis that was conducted for the NSTAR (NASA's Solar Electric Propulsion Technology Applications Readiness Program) Life Demonstration Test (LDT2) was used as a foundation for the analysis developed herein. A new carbon surface coverage model was developed that accounted for multiple carbon adlayers before complete surface coverage is achieved. The resulting model requires knowledge of more model inputs, so they were conservatively estimated using the results of past thin film sputtering studies and particle reflection predictions. In addition, accelerator current densities across the grid were rigorously determined using an ion optics code to determine accelerator current distributions and an algorithm to determine beam current densities along a grid using downstream measurements. The improved analysis was applied to the NSTAR test results for evaluation. The improved analysis demonstrated that the impact of back-sputtered carbon on pit and groove wear rate for the NSTAR LDT2 was negligible throughout most of eroded grid radius. The improved analysis also predicted the accelerator current density for transition from net erosion to net deposition considerably more accurately than the original analysis. The improved analysis was used to estimate the impact of back-sputtered carbon on the accelerator grid pit and groove wear rate of the NEXT Long Duration Test (LDT1). Unlike the NSTAR analysis, the NEXT analysis was more challenging because the thruster was operated for extended durations at various operating conditions and was unavailable for measurements because the test is ongoing. As a result, the NEXT LDT1 estimates presented herein are considered preliminary until the results of future posttest analyses are incorporated. The worst-case impact of carbon back

  9. Space Acceleration Measurement System-II

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Foster, William

    2009-01-01

    Space Acceleration Measurement System (SAMS-II) is an ongoing study of the small forces (vibrations and accelerations) on the ISS that result from the operation of hardware, crew activities, as well as dockings and maneuvering. Results will be used to generalize the types of vibrations affecting vibration-sensitive experiments. Investigators seek to better understand the vibration environment on the space station to enable future research.

  10. Diagnostics Systems for Permanent Hall Thrusters Development

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ferreira, Jose Leonardo; Soares Ferreira, Ivan; Santos, Jean; Miranda, Rodrigo; Possa, M. Gabriela

    This work describes the development of Permanent Magnet Hall Effect Plasma Thruster (PHALL) and its diagnostic systems at The Plasma Physics Laboratory of University of Brasilia. The project consists on the construction and characterization of plasma propulsion engines based on the Hall Effect. Electric thrusters have been employed in over 220 successful space missions. Two types stand out: the Hall-Effect Thruster (HET) and the Gridded Ion Engine (GIE). The first, which we deal with in this project, has the advantage of greater simplicity of operation, a smaller weight for the propulsion subsystem and a longer shelf life. It can operate in two configurations: magnetic layer and anode layer, the difference between the two lying in the positioning of the anode inside the plasma channel. A Hall-Effect Thruster-HET is a type of plasma thruster in which the propellant gas is ionized and accelerated by a magneto hydrodynamic effect combined with electrostatic ion acceleration. So the essential operating principle of the HET is that it uses a J x B force and an electrostatic potential to accelerate ions up to high speeds. In a HET, the attractive negative charge is provided by electrons at the open end of the Thruster instead of a grid, as in the case of the electrostatic ion thrusters. A strong radial magnetic field is used to hold the electrons in place, with the combination of the magnetic field and the electrostatic potential force generating a fast circulating electron current, the Hall current, around the axis of the Thruster, mainly composed by drifting electrons in an ion plasma background. Only a slow axial drift towards the anode occurs. The main attractive features of the Hall-Effect Thruster are its simple design and operating principles. Most of the Hall-Effect Thrusters use electromagnet coils to produce the main magnetic field responsible for plasma generation and acceleration. In this paper we present a different new concept, a Permanent Magnet Hall

  11. NASA's Hall Thruster Program

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Jankovsky, Robert S.; Jacobson, David T.; Rawlin, Vincent K.; Mason, Lee S.; Mantenieks, Maris A.; Manzella, David H.; Hofer, Richard R.; Peterson, Peter Y.

    2001-01-01

    NASA's Hall thruster program has base research and focused development efforts in support of the Advanced Space Transportation Program, Space-Based Program, and various other programs. The objective of the base research is to gain an improved understanding of the physical processes and engineering constraints of Hall thrusters to enable development of advanced Hall thruster designs. Specific technical questions that are current priorities of the base effort are: (1) How does thruster life vary with operating point? (2) How can thruster lifetime and wear rate be most efficiently evaluated? (3) What are the practical limitations for discharge voltage as it pertains to high specific impulse operation (high discharge voltage) and high thrust operation (low discharge voltage)? (4) What are the practical limits for extending Hall thrusters to very high input powers? and (5) What can be done during thruster design to reduce cost and integration concerns? The objective of the focused development effort is to develop a 50 kW-class Hall propulsion system, with a milestone of a 50 kW engineering model thruster/system by the end of program year 2006. Specific program wear 2001 efforts, along with the corporate and academic participation, are described.

  12. NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Tri-gas Thruster Performance Characterization

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Dorado, Vanessa; Grunder, Zachary; Schaefer, Bryce; Sung, Meagan; Pedersen, Kevin

    2013-01-01

    Historically, spacecraft reaction control systems have primarily utilized cold gas thrusters because of their inherent simplicity and reliability. However, cold gas thrusters typically have a low specific impulse. It has been determined that a higher specific impulse can be achieved by passing a monopropellant fluid mixture through a catalyst bed prior to expulsion through the thruster nozzle. This research analyzes the potential efficiency improvements from using tri-gas, a mixture of hydrogen, oxygen, and an inert gas, which in this case is helium. Passing tri-gas through a catalyst causes the hydrogen and oxygen to react and form water vapor, ultimately heating the exiting fluid and generating a higher specific impulse. The goal of this project was to optimize the thruster performance by characterizing the effects of varying several system components including catalyst types, catalyst lengths, and initial catalyst temperatures.

  13. The interaction of the atmosphere with the space shuttle thruster plume: The NH (A-X) 336-nm emission

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Viereck, Rodney A.; Murad, Edmond; Knecht, David J.; Pike, Charles P.; Bernstein, Lawrence S.; Elgin, James B.; Broadfoot, A. Lyle

    1996-03-01

    Observations of the optical emissions from the space shuttle's thrusters have been examined. Particular attention has been paid to the interaction of the thruster plume with the atmosphere. Emissions from CN, CH, C2, HNO, and NO2 have been observed near the nozzle of the thruster in the vacuum core region of the plume, but these emissions are the direct result of the combustion process. Other emissions including OI and NH have been observed in the downstream region of the plume, where the plume effluents interact with the atmosphere. The NH emission is one of the most dominant UV/visible wavelength emissions observed in the plumes. This emission was observed to extend several thousand meters from the shuttle, and detailed analysis shows that the total intensity of the emission depends on the ram angle (angle in the shuttle reference frame between the plume effluents and the ramming atmosphere) and altitude, indicating an interaction process with the atmosphere. Data from two observational experiments are presented. The Air Force Maui Optical Site (AMOS) experiment includes ground-based spectral and spatial measurements of the shuttle plumes as the thrusters were fired over the AMOS site on top of Haliakala Volcano on the island of Maui in the mid-Pacific. The GLO experiment was flown in the payload bay of the space shuttle and also includes spectral and spatial measurements of the shuttle plumes. During both of these experiments, the primary reaction control system (PRCS) engines (870 lb (394 kgf) thrust) and Vernier reaction control system (VRCS) engines (25 lb (11 kgf) thrust) were fired at various angles relative to the ram, thus providing a range of collision velocities (4.5-11 km/s) between the thruster plume and the atmosphere. In this report the dependence of the NH emission on ram angle, thruster size, and distance from the shuttle is presented and analyzed using a three-dimensional Monte Carlo simulation of the plume-atmosphere interactions called

  14. MPD Thruster Performance Analytic Models

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gilland, James; Johnston, Geoffrey

    2003-01-01

    Magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) thrusters are capable of accelerating quasi-neutral plasmas to high exhaust velocities using Megawatts (MW) of electric power. These characteristics make such devices worthy of consideration for demanding, far-term missions such as the human exploration of Mars or beyond. Assessment of MPD thrusters at the system and mission level is often difficult due to their status as ongoing experimental research topics rather than developed thrusters. However, in order to assess MPD thrusters' utility in later missions, some adequate characterization of performance, or more exactly, projected performance, and system level definition are required for use in analyses. The most recent physical models of self-field MPD thrusters have been examined, assessed, and reconfigured for use by systems and mission analysts. The physical models allow for rational projections of thruster performance based on physical parameters that can be measured in the laboratory. The models and their implications for the design of future MPD thrusters are presented.

  15. MPD Thruster Performance Analytic Models

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Gilland, James; Johnston, Geoffrey

    2007-01-01

    Magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) thrusters are capable of accelerating quasi-neutral plasmas to high exhaust velocities using Megawatts (MW) of electric power. These characteristics make such devices worthy of consideration for demanding, far-term missions such as the human exploration of Mars or beyond. Assessment of MPD thrusters at the system and mission level is often difficult due to their status as ongoing experimental research topics rather than developed thrusters. However, in order to assess MPD thrusters utility in later missions, some adequate characterization of performance, or more exactly, projected performance, and system level definition are required for use in analyses. The most recent physical models of self-field MPD thrusters have been examined, assessed, and reconfigured for use by systems and mission analysts. The physical models allow for rational projections of thruster performance based on physical parameters that can be measured in the laboratory. The models and their implications for the design of future MPD thrusters are presented.

  16. MPD Thruster Performance Analytic Models

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Gilland, James; Johnston, Geoffrey

    2003-01-01

    Magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) thrusters are capable of accelerating quasi-neutral plasmas to high exhaust velocities using Megawatts (MW) of electric power. These characteristics make such devices worthy of consideration for demanding, far-term missions such as the human exploration of Mars or beyond. Assessment of MPD thrusters at the system and mission level is often difficult due to their status as ongoing experimental research topics rather than developed thrusters. However, in order to assess MPD thrusters utility in later missions, some adequate characterization of performance, or more exactly, projected performance, and system level definition are required for use in analyses. The most recent physical models of self-field MPD thrusters have been examined, assessed, and reconfigured for use by systems and mission analysts. The physical models allow for rational projections of thruster performance based on physical parameters that can be measured in the laboratory. The models and their implications for the design of future MPD thrusters are presented.

  17. Space experiments with particle accelerators

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Obayashi, T.; Kawashima, N.; Kuriki, K.; Nagatomo, M.; Ninomiya, K.; Sasaki, S.; Roberts, W. T.; Chappell, C. R.; Reasoner, D. L.; Garriott, O. K.; Taylor, W. W. L.

    1984-01-01

    Electron and plasma beams and neutral gas plumes were injected into the space environment by instruuments on Spacelab 1, and various diagnostic measurements including television camera observations were performed. The results yield information on vehicle charging and neutralization, beam-plasma interactions, and ionization enhancement by neutral beam injection.

  18. Development of Electrothermal Pulsed Plasma Thrusters for Osaka-Institute-of-Technology Electric-Rocket-Engine onboard Small Space Ship

    SciTech Connect

    Ishii, Yushuke; Yamamoto, Tsuyoshi; Yamada, Minetsugu; Tahara, Hirokazu

    2008-12-31

    The Project of Osaka-Institute-of-Technology Electric-Rocket-Engine onboard Small Space Ship (PROITERES) was started at Osaka Institute of Technology. In PROITERES, a 10-kg small satellite with electrothermal pulsed plasma thrusters (PPTs), named JOSHO, will be launched in 2010. The main mission is powered flight of small satellite by electric thruster itself. Electrothermal PPTs were studied with both experiments and numerical simulations. An electrothermal PPT with a side-fed propellant feeding mechanism achieved a total impulse of 3.6 Ns with a repetitive 10000-shot operation. An unsteady numerical simulation showed the existence of considerable amount of ablation delaying to the discharge. However, it was also shown that this phenomenon should not be regarded as the 'late time ablation' for electrothermal PPTs.

  19. The MPD thruster program at JPL

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Barnett, John; Goodfellow, Keith; Polk, James; Pivirotto, Thomas

    1991-01-01

    The main topics covered include: (1) the Space Exploration Initiative (SEI) context; (2) critical issues of MPD Thruster design; and (3) the Magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) Thruster Program at JPL. Under the section on the SEI context the nuclear electric propulsion system and some electric thruster options are addressed. The critical issues of MPD Thruster development deal with the requirements, status, and approach taken. The following areas are covered with respect to the MPD Thruster Program at JPL: (1) the radiation-cooled MPD thruster; (2) the High-Current Cathode Test Facility; (3) thruster component thermal modeling; and (4) alkali metal propellant studies.

  20. NASA's 2004 Hall Thruster Program

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Jacobson, David T.; Manzella, David H.; Hofer, Richard R.; Peterson, Peter Y.

    2004-01-01

    An overview of NASA's Hall thruster research and development tasks conducted during fiscal year 2004 is presented. These tasks focus on: raising the technology readiness level of high power Hall thrusters, developing a moderate-power/ moderate specific impulse Hall thruster, demonstrating high-power/high specific impulse Hall thruster operation, and addressing the fundamental technical challenges of emerging Hall thruster concepts. Programmatic background information, technical accomplishments and out year plans for each program element performed under the sponsorship of the In-Space Transportation Program, Project Prometheus, and the Energetics Project are provided.

  1. Particle accelerator employing transient space charge potentials

    DOEpatents

    Post, Richard F.

    1990-01-01

    The invention provides an accelerator for ions and charged particles. The plasma is generated and confined in a magnetic mirror field. The electrons of the plasma are heated to high temperatures. A series of local coils are placed along the axis of the magnetic mirror field. As an ion or particle beam is directed along the axis in sequence the coils are rapidly pulsed creating a space charge to accelerate and focus the beam of ions or charged particles.

  2. Delivery of Colloid Micro-Newton Thrusters for the Space Technology 7 Mission

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Ziemer, John K.; Randolph, Thomas M.; Franklin, Garth W.; Hruby, Vlad; Spence, Douglas; Demmons, Nathaniel; Roy, Thomas; Ehrbar, Eric; Zwahlen, Jurg; Martin, Roy; Connolly, William

    2008-01-01

    Two flight-qualified clusters of four Colloid Micro-Newton Thruster (CMNT) systems have been delivered to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The clusters will provide precise spacecraft control for the drag-free technology demonstration mission, Space Technology 7 (ST7). The ST7 mission is sponsored by the NASA New Millennium Program and will demonstrate precision formation flying technologies for future missions such as the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) mission. The ST7 disturbance reduction system (DRS) will be on the ESA LISA Pathfinder spacecraft using the European gravitational reference sensor (GRS) as part of the ESA LISA Technology Package (LTP). Developed by Busek Co. Inc., with support from JPL in design and testing, the CMNT has been developed over the last six years into a flight-ready and flight-qualified microthruster system, the first of its kind. Recent flight-unit qualification tests have included vibration and thermal vacuum environmental testing, as well as performance verification and acceptance tests. All tests have been completed successfully prior to delivery to JPL. Delivery of the first flight unit occurred in February of 2008 with the second unit following in May of 2008. Since arrival at JPL, the units have successfully passed through mass distribution, magnetic, and EMI/EMC measurements and tests as part of the integration and test (I&T) activities including the integrated avionics unit (IAU). Flight software sequences have been tested and validated with the full flight DRS instrument successfully to the extent possible in ground testing, including full functional and 72 hour autonomous operations tests. Delivery of the cluster assemblies along with the IAU to ESA for integration into the LISA Pathfinder spacecraft is planned for the summer of 2008 with a planned launch and flight demonstration in late 2010.

  3. Modeling the Hall Thruster

    SciTech Connect

    Fisch, N.J.; Fruchtman, A.

    1998-08-01

    The acceleration of the plasma in the Hall thruster to supersonic velocities is examined by the use of a steady state model. Flows that are smooth across the sonic transition plane are found. The possibility of generating flows in which the acceleration across the sonic plane is abrupt, is also studied.

  4. Thermal Modeling for Pulsed Inductive FRC Plasmoid Thrusters

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Pfaff, Michael

    Due to the rising importance of space based infrastructure, long-range robotic space missions, and the need for active attitude control for spacecraft, research into Electric Propulsion is becoming increasingly important. Electric Propulsion (EP) systems utilize electric power to accelerate ions in order to produce thrust. Unlike traditional chemical propulsion, this means that thrust levels are relatively low. The trade-off is that EP thrusters have very high specific impulses (Isp), and can therefore make do with far less onboard propellant than cold gas, monopropellant, or bipropellant engines. As a consequence of the high power levels used to accelerate the ionized propellant, there is a mass and cost penalty in terms of solar panels and a power processing unit. Due to the large power consumption (and waste heat) from electric propulsion thrusters, accurate measurements and predictions of thermal losses are needed. Excessive heating in sensitive locations within a thruster may lead to premature failure of vital components. Between the fixed cost required to purchase these components, as well as the man-hours needed to assemble (or replace) them, attempting to build a high-power thruster without reliable thermal modeling can be expensive. This paper will explain the usage of FEM modeling and experimental tests in characterizing the ElectroMagnetic Plasmoid Thruster (EMPT) and the Electrodeless Lorentz Force (ELF) thruster at the MSNW LLC facility in Redmond, Washington. The EMPT thruster model is validated using an experimental setup, and steady state temperatures are predicted for vacuum conditions. Preliminary analysis of the ELF thruster indicates possible material failure in absence of an active cooling system for driving electronics and for certain power levels.

  5. Development of an iron nitrate resistant injector valve for the Space Shuttle orbiter primary thruster

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Wichmann, Horst; Marquardt, Kaiser; Goforth, Alyssa

    1993-01-01

    Design of a direct-acting valve (DAV) for a primary thruster which is fully interchangeable with a thruster equipped with pilot-operated valves is described. The DAV is based on a bellows to isolate propellants form the actuator for maximum resistance to iron nitrate and other contamination and to select optimum materials for the actuator. It provides improved seal performance under all operating conditions and insensitivity to pressure transients. As compared with the existing pilot-operated valve, the DAV design is much simpler, consists of fewer parts, and will be lower in cost.

  6. Eight-cm mercury ion thruster system technology

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1974-01-01

    The technology status of 8 cm diameter electron bombardment ion thrusters is presented. Much of the technology resulting from the 5 cm diameter thruster has been adapted and improved upon to increase the reliability, durability, and efficiency of the 8 cm thruster. Technology discussed includes: dependence of neutralizer tip erosion upon neutralizer flow rate; impregnated and rolled-foil insert cathode performance and life testing; neutralizer position studies; thruster ion beam profile measurements; high voltage pulse ignition; high utilization ion machined accelerator grids; deposition internal and external to the thruster; thruster vectoring systems; thruster cycling life testing and thruster system weights for typical mission applications.

  7. High-Isp Mode Of Pulsed Laser-Electromagnetic Hybrid Accelerator For Space Propulsion Applications

    SciTech Connect

    Horisawa, Hideyuki; Kishida, Yoshiaki; Funaki, Ikkoh

    2010-10-08

    A fundamental study of a newly developed rectangular pulsed laser-electromagnetic hybrid thruster was conducted. Laser-ablation plasma in the thruster was induced through laser beam irradiation onto a solid target and accelerated by electrical means instead of direct acceleration only by using a laser beam. The performance of the thrusters was evaluated by measuring the mass shot and impulse bit. As results, significantly high specific impulses up to 7,200 sec were obtained at the charge energies of 8.6 J. In addition, typical thrust efficiency varied between 11.8% and 21.3% depending on the charge energy.

  8. Diagnostics Systems for Permanent Hall Thrusters Development

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ferreira, Jose Leonardo; Soares Ferreira, Ivan; Santos, Jean; Miranda, Rodrigo; Possa, M. Gabriela

    This work describes the development of Permanent Magnet Hall Effect Plasma Thruster (PHALL) and its diagnostic systems at The Plasma Physics Laboratory of University of Brasilia. The project consists on the construction and characterization of plasma propulsion engines based on the Hall Effect. Electric thrusters have been employed in over 220 successful space missions. Two types stand out: the Hall-Effect Thruster (HET) and the Gridded Ion Engine (GIE). The first, which we deal with in this project, has the advantage of greater simplicity of operation, a smaller weight for the propulsion subsystem and a longer shelf life. It can operate in two configurations: magnetic layer and anode layer, the difference between the two lying in the positioning of the anode inside the plasma channel. A Hall-Effect Thruster-HET is a type of plasma thruster in which the propellant gas is ionized and accelerated by a magneto hydrodynamic effect combined with electrostatic ion acceleration. So the essential operating principle of the HET is that it uses a J x B force and an electrostatic potential to accelerate ions up to high speeds. In a HET, the attractive negative charge is provided by electrons at the open end of the Thruster instead of a grid, as in the case of the electrostatic ion thrusters. A strong radial magnetic field is used to hold the electrons in place, with the combination of the magnetic field and the electrostatic potential force generating a fast circulating electron current, the Hall current, around the axis of the Thruster, mainly composed by drifting electrons in an ion plasma background. Only a slow axial drift towards the anode occurs. The main attractive features of the Hall-Effect Thruster are its simple design and operating principles. Most of the Hall-Effect Thrusters use electromagnet coils to produce the main magnetic field responsible for plasma generation and acceleration. In this paper we present a different new concept, a Permanent Magnet Hall

  9. Electron-wall interaction in Hall thrusters

    SciTech Connect

    Raitses, Y.; Staack, D.; Keidar, M.; Fisch, N.J.

    2005-05-15

    Electron-wall interaction effects in Hall thrusters are studied through measurements of the plasma response to variations of the thruster channel width and the discharge voltage. The discharge voltage threshold is shown to separate two thruster regimes. Below this threshold, the electron energy gain is constant in the acceleration region and therefore, secondary electron emission (SEE) from the channel walls is insufficient to enhance electron energy losses at the channel walls. Above this voltage threshold, the maximum electron temperature saturates. This result seemingly agrees with predictions of the temperature saturation, which recent Hall thruster models explain as a transition to space-charge saturated regime of the near-wall sheath. However, in the experiment, the maximum saturation temperature exceeds by almost three times the critical value estimated under the assumption of a Maxwellian electron energy distribution function. The channel narrowing, which should also enhance electron-wall collisions, causes unexpectedly larger changes of the plasma potential distribution than does the increase of the electron temperature with the discharge voltage. An enhanced anomalous crossed-field mobility (near wall or Bohm-type) is suggested by a hydrodynamic model as an explanation to the reduced electric field measured inside a narrow channel. We found, however, no experimental evidence of a coupling between the maximum electron temperature and the location of the accelerating voltage drop, which might have been expected due to the SEE-induced near-wall conductivity.

  10. NEXT Ion Thruster Performance Dispersion Analyses

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Soulas, George C.; Patterson, Michael J.

    2008-01-01

    The NEXT ion thruster is a low specific mass, high performance thruster with a nominal throttling range of 0.5 to 7 kW. Numerous engineering model and one prototype model thrusters have been manufactured and tested. Of significant importance to propulsion system performance is thruster-to-thruster performance dispersions. This type of information can provide a bandwidth of expected performance variations both on a thruster and a component level. Knowledge of these dispersions can be used to more conservatively predict thruster service life capability and thruster performance for mission planning, facilitate future thruster performance comparisons, and verify power processor capabilities are compatible with the thruster design. This study compiles the test results of five engineering model thrusters and one flight-like thruster to determine unit-to-unit dispersions in thruster performance. Component level performance dispersion analyses will include discharge chamber voltages, currents, and losses; accelerator currents, electron backstreaming limits, and perveance limits; and neutralizer keeper and coupling voltages and the spot-to-plume mode transition flow rates. Thruster level performance dispersion analyses will include thrust efficiency.

  11. High-Power Electromagnetic Thruster Being Developed

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    LaPointe, Michael R.; Mikellides, Pavlos G.

    2001-01-01

    High-power electromagnetic thrusters have been proposed as primary in-space propulsion options for several bold new interplanetary and deep-space missions. As the lead center for electric propulsion, the NASA Glenn Research Center designs, develops, and tests high-power electromagnetic technologies to meet these demanding mission requirements. Two high-power thruster concepts currently under investigation by Glenn are the magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) thruster and the Pulsed Inductive Thruster (PIT).

  12. Instabilities in MPD thruster flows: 1. Space charge instabilities in unbounded and inhomogeneous plasmas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wagner, H. P.; Kaeppeler, H. J.; Auweter-Kurtz, M.

    1998-03-01

    For a few years, the study of magnetoplasmadynamic instabilities has received increased attention because they may explain the so-called `onset' phenomena which limit the efficiency and, thus, the use of coaxial plasma accelerators in space propulsion and other applications. A systematic investigation of instabilities in magnetoplasmadynamic flows was initiated at the Institut für Raumfahrtsysteme in 1987. Among other instabilities, a particular one with the characteristics of the space charge instability was found. This instability had until then been known to occur only in finite gas discharge geometries. It will be shown in this paper that, in the presence of gradients of the flow variables, space charge instabilities can also appear in unbounded plasmas. The conditions for their development and growth are determined and discussed.

  13. Accurate design of ICRF antennas for RF plasma thruster acceleration units with TOPICA

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lancellotti, V.; Maggiora, R.; Vecchi, G.; Milanesio, D.; Meneghini, O.

    2007-09-01

    In recent years electromagnetic (RF) plasma generation and acceleration concepts for plasma-based propulsion systems have received growing interest, inasmuch as they can yield continuous thrust as well as highly controllable and wide-ranging exhaust velocities. The acceleration units mostly adopt the Ion Cyclotron Resonance Frequency (ICRF)—a proven technology in fusion experiments for transferring large RF powers into magnetized plasmas, and also used by the VASIMR propulsion system. In this work we propose and demonstrate the use of TOPICA code to design and optimize the ICRF antenna of a typical acceleration stage. To this end, TOPICA was extended to cope with magnetized cylindricaily-symmetric radially-inhomogeneous warm plasmas, which required coding a new module charged with solving Maxwell's equations within the plasma to obtain the relevant Green's function Ỹ(m,kz) in the Fourier domain, i.e. the relation between the transverse magnetic and electric fields at the air-plasma interface. Then, calculating the antenna input impedance—and hence the loading—relies on an integral-equation formulation and subsequent finite-element weighted-residual solution scheme for the self-consistent evaluation of the current density distribution on the conducting bodies and at the air-plasma interface.

  14. Space Acceleration Measurement System for Free Flyers

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Kacpura, Thomas J.

    1999-01-01

    Experimenters from the fluids, combustion, materials, and life science disciplines all use the microgravity environment of space to enhance their understanding of fundamental physical phenomena caused by disturbances from events such as spacecraft maneuvers, equipment operations, atmospheric drag, and (for manned flights) crew movement. Space conditions reduce gravity but do not eliminate it. To quantify the level of these disturbances, NASA developed the Space Acceleration Measurement System (SAMS) series to collect data characterizing the acceleration environment on the space shuttles. This information is provided to investigators so that they can evaluate how the microgravity environment affects their experiments. Knowledge of the microgravity environment also helps investigators to plan future experiments. The original SAMS system flew 20 missions on the shuttle as well as on the Russian space station Mir. Presently, Lewis is developing SAMS-II for the International Space Station; it will be a distributed system using digital output sensor heads. The latest operational version of SAMS, SAMS-FF, was originally designed for free flyer spacecraft and unmanned areas. SAMS-FF is a flexible, modular system, housed in a lightweight package, and it uses advances in technology to improve performance. The hardware package consists of a control and data acquisition module, three different types of sensors, data storage devices, and ground support equipment interfaces. Three different types of sensors are incorporated to measure both high- and low-frequency accelerations and the roll rate velocity. Small, low-power triaxial sensor heads (TSH's) offer high resolution and selectable bandwidth, and a special low-frequency accelerometer is available for high-resolution, low-frequency applications. A state-of-the-art, triaxial fiberoptic gyroscope that measures extremely low roll rates is housed in a compact package. The versatility of the SAMS-FF system is shown in the three

  15. Achievable space elevators for space transportation and starship acceleration

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Pearson, Jerome

    1990-01-01

    Space elevator concepts for low-cost space launches are reviewed. Previous concepts suffered from requirements for ultra-high-strength materials, dynamically unstable systems, or from danger of collision with space debris. The use of magnetic grain streams solves these problems. Magnetic grain streams can support short space elevators for lifting payloads cheaply into Earth orbit, overcoming the material strength problem in building space elevators. Alternatively, the stream could support an international spaceport circling the Earth daily tens of miles above the equator, accessible to advanced aircraft. Mars could be equipped with a similar grain stream, using material from its moons Phobos and Deimos. Grain-stream arcs about the sun could be used for fast launches to the outer planets and for accelerating starships to near lightspeed for interstellar reconnaisance. Grain streams are essentially impervious to collisions, and could reduce the cost of space transportation by an order of magnitude.

  16. Space Experiments with Particle Accelerators: SEPAC

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Burch, J. L.; Roberts, W. T.; Taylor, W. W. L.; Kawashima, N.; Marshall, J. A.; Moses, S. L.; Neubert, T.; Mende, S. B.; Choueiri, E. Y.

    1994-01-01

    The Space Experiments with Particle Accelerators (SEPAC), which flew on the Atmospheric Laboratory for Applications and Science (ATLAS) 1 mission, used new techniques to study natural phenomena in the Earth's upper atmosphere, ionosphere and magnetosphere by introducing energetic perturbations into the system from a high power electron beam with known characteristics. Properties of auroras were studied by directing the electron beam into the upper atmosphere while making measurements of optical emissions. Studies were also performed of the critical ionization velocity phenomenon.

  17. Ray-tracing WKB analysis of Whistler waves in non-uniform magnetic fields applied to space thrusters

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cardinali, A.; Melazzi, D.; Manente, M.; Pavarin, D.

    2014-02-01

    Radiofrequency magnetized cylindrical plasma sources are proposed for the development of space thrusters, whose thrust efficiency and specific impulse depend on the power coupled into the plasma. At this stage of research, emphasis has been on the absorption of Whistler wave energy by non-uniform plasmas but not much on the role played by the magneto-static confinement field, considered uniform, constant and aligned with the axis of the source. We present RAYWh (RAY-tracing Whistler), a three-dimensional (3D) ray-tracing solver for electromagnetic propagation and power deposition in cylindrical plasma sources for space plasma thrusters, where actual magnetic confinement configurations along with plasma density profiles are included. The propagation and absorption of Whistler waves are investigated by solving the 3D Maxwell-Vlasov model equations by a Wentzel-Kramers-Brillouin (WKB) asymptotic expansion. The reduced set of equations for the wave phase and for the square amplitude of the electric field is solved numerically by means of a modified Runge-Kutta algorithm. Unexpected cut-offs, resonances, radial reflections, mode conversions and power deposition profile of the excited waves are found, when realistic confinement magnetic fields are considered. An analysis of the influence of axial wavenumbers and the axial length of the system on the power deposition is presented.

  18. Integrated thruster assembly program

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1973-01-01

    The program is reported which has provided technology for a long life, high performing, integrated ACPS thruster assembly suitable for use in 100 typical flights of a space shuttle vehicle over a ten year period. The four integrated thruster assemblies (ITA) fabricated consisted of: propellant injector; a capacitive discharge, air gap torch type igniter assembly; fast response igniter and main propellant valves; and a combined regen-dump film cooled chamber. These flightweight 6672 N (1500 lb) thruster assemblies employed GH2/GO2 as propellants at a chamber pressure of 207 N/sq cm (300 psia). Test data were obtained on thrusted performance, thermal and hydraulic characteristics, dynamic response in pulsing, and cycle life. One thruster was fired in excess of 42,000 times.

  19. Inert gas thrusters

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Kaufman, H. R.; Robinson, R. S.

    1980-01-01

    Some advances in component technology for inert gas thrusters are described. The maximum electron emission of a hollow cathode with Ar was increased 60-70% by the use of an enclosed keeper configuration. Operation with Ar, but without emissive oxide, was also obtained. A 30 cm thruster operated with Ar at moderate discharge voltages give double-ion measurements consistent with a double ion correlation developed previously using 15 cm thruster data. An attempt was made to reduce discharge losses by biasing anodes positive of the discharge plasma. The reason this attempt was unsuccessful is not yet clear. The performance of a single-grid ion-optics configuration was evaluated. The ion impingement on the single grid accelerator was found to approach the value expected from the projected blockage when the sheath thickness next to the accelerator was 2-3 times the aperture diameter.

  20. Laser ablation in a running hall effect thruster for space propulsion

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Balika, L.; Focsa, C.; Gurlui, S.; Pellerin, S.; Pellerin, N.; Pagnon, D.; Dudeck, M.

    2013-07-01

    Hall Effect Thrusters (HETs) are promising electric propulsion devices for the station-keeping of geostationary satellites (more than 120 in orbit to date). Moreover, they can offer a cost-effective solution for interplanetary journey, as proved by the recent ESA SMART-1 mission to the Moon. The main limiting factor of the HETs lifetime is the erosion of the annular channel ceramics walls. In order to provide a better understanding of the energy deposition on the insulated walls, a laser irradiation study has been carried out on a PPS100-ML thruster during its run in the PIVOINE-2G ground test facility (CNRS Orléans, France). Two distinct approaches have been followed: continuous wave fiber laser irradiation (generation of thermal defects) and nanosecond pulsed laser ablation (generation of topological defects). The irradiated zones have been monitored in situ by IR thermography and optical emission spectroscopy and further investigated ex situ by scanning electron microscopy and profilometry.

  1. Causes and Mitigation of Fuel Pilot Operated Valve Pilot Seal Extrusion in Space Shuttle Orbiter Primary RCS Thrusters

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Waller, Jess M.; Roth, Tim E.; Saulsberry, Regor L.; Haney, William A.; Kelly, Terence S; Forsyth, Bradley S.

    2004-01-01

    Extrusion of a polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) pilot seal located in the Space Shuttle Orbiter Primary Reaction Control Subsystem (PRCS) thruster fuel valve has been implicated in 68 ground and on-orbit fuel valve failures. A rash of six extrusion-related in-flight anomalies over a six-mission span from December 2001 to October 2002 led to heightened activity at various NASA centers, and the formation of a multidisciplinary team to solve the problem. Empirical and theoretical approaches were used. For example, thermomechanical analysis (TMA) and exposure tests showed that some extrusion is produced by thermal cycling; however, a review of thruster service histories did not reveal a strong link between thermal cycling and extrusion. Calculations showed that the amount of observed extrusion often exceeded the amount allowed by thermally-induced stress relief. Failure analysis of failed hardware also revealed the presence of fuel-oxidizer reaction product (FORP) inside the fuel valve pilot seal cavity, and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) showed that the FORP was intimately associated with the pilot seal material. Component-level exposure tests showed that FORP of similar composition could be produced by adjacent oxidizer valve leakage in the absence of thruster firing. Specific gravity data showed that extruded fuel valve pilot seals were less dense than new pilot seals or oxidizer valve pilot seals, indicating permanent modification of the PTFE occurred during service. It is concluded that some thermally-induced extrusion is unavoidable; however, oxidizer leakage-induced extrusion is mostly avoidable and can be mitigated. Several engineering level mitigation strategies are discussed.

  2. Artificial Neural Network Test Support Development for the Space Shuttle PRCS Thrusters

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Lehr, Mark E.

    2005-01-01

    A significant anomaly, Fuel Valve Pilot Seal Extrusion, is affecting the Shuttle Primary Reaction Control System (PRCS) Thrusters, and has caused 79 to fail. To help address this problem, a Shuttle PRCS Thruster Process Evaluation Team (TPET) was formed. The White Sands Test Facility (WSTF) and Boeing members of the TPET have identified many discrete valve current trace characteristics that are predictive of the problem. However, these are difficult and time consuming to identify and trend by manual analysis. Based on this exhaustive analysis over months, 22 thrusters previously delivered by the Depot were identified as high risk for flight failures. Although these had only recently been installed, they had to be removed from Shuttles OV103 and OV104 for reprocessing, by directive of the Shuttle Project Office. The resulting impact of the thruster removal, replacement, and valve replacement was significant (months of work and hundreds of thousands of dollars). Much of this could have been saved had the proposed Neural Network (NN) tool described in this paper been in place. In addition to the significant benefits to the Shuttle indicated above, the development and implementation of this type of testing will be the genesis for potential Quality improvements across many areas of WSTF test data analysis and will be shared with other NASA centers. Future tests can be designed to incorporate engineering experience via Artificial Neural Nets (ANN) into depot level acceptance of hardware. Additionally, results were shared with a NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC) Super Problem Response Team (SPRT). There was extensive interest voiced among many different personnel from several centers. There are potential spin-offs of this effort that can be directly applied to other data acquisition systems as well as vehicle health management for current and future flight vehicles.

  3. Testing Done for Lorentz Force Accelerators and Electrodeless Propulsion Technology Development

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Pencil, Eric J.; Gilland, James H.; Arrington, Lynn A.; Kamhawi, Hani

    2004-01-01

    The NASA Glenn Research Center is developing Lorentz force accelerators and electrodeless plasma propulsion for a wide variety of space applications. These applications range from precision control of formation-flying spacecraft to primary propulsion for very high power interplanetary spacecraft. The specific thruster technologies being addressed are pulsed plasma thrusters, magnetoplasmadynamic thrusters, and helicon-electron cyclotron resonance acceleration thrusters. The pulsed plasma thruster mounted on the Earth Observing-1 spacecraft was operated successfully in orbit in 2002. The two-axis thruster system is fully incorporated in the attitude determination and control system and is being used to automatically counteract disturbances in the pitch axis of the spacecraft. Recent on-orbit operations have focused on extended operations to add flight operation time to the total accumulated thruster life. The results of the experiments pave the way for electric propulsion applications on future Earth-imaging satellites.

  4. Development of Eddy Current Techniques for the Detection of Cracking in Space Shuttle Primary Reaction Control Thrusters

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Wincheski, Buzz A.; Simpson, John W.; Koshti, Ajay

    2007-01-01

    A recent identification of cracking in the Space Shuttle Primary Reaction Control System (PRCS) thrusters triggered an extensive nondestructive evaluation effort to develop techniques capable of identifying such damage on installed shuttle hardware. As a part of this effort, specially designed eddy current probes inserted into the acoustic cavity were explored for the detection of such flaws and for evaluation of the remaining material between the crack tip and acoustic cavity. The technique utilizes two orthogonal eddy current probes which are scanned under stepper motor control in the acoustic cavity to identify cracks hidden with as much as 0.060 remaining wall thickness to the cavity. As crack growth rates in this area have been determined to be very slow, such an inspection provides a large safety margin for continued operation of the critical shuttle hardware. Testing has been performed on thruster components with both actual and fabricated defects. This paper will review the design and performance of the developed eddy current inspection system. Detection of flaws as a function of remaining wall thickness will be presented along with the proposed system configuration for depot level or on-vehicle inspection capabilities.

  5. Development of Eddy Current Technique for the Detection of Stress Corrosion Cracking in Space Shuttle Primary Reaction Control Thrusters

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Wincheski, Buzz; Simpson, John; Koshti, Ajay

    2006-01-01

    A recent identification of stress corrosion cracking in the Space Shuttle Primary Reaction Control System (PRCS) thrusters triggered an extensive nondestructive evaluation effort to develop techniques capable of identifying such damage on installed shuttle hardware. As a part of this effort, specially designed eddy current probes inserted into the acoustic cavity were explored for the detection of such flaws and for evaluation of the remaining material between the crack tip and acoustic cavity. The technique utilizes two orthogonal eddy current probes which are scanned under stepper motor control in the acoustic cavity to identify cracks hidden with as much as 0.060 remaining wall thickness to the cavity. As crack growth rates in this area have been determined to be very slow, such an inspection provides a large safety margin for continued operation of the critical shuttle hardware. Testing has been performed on thruster components with both actual and fabricated defects. This paper will review the design and performance of the developed eddy current inspection system. Detection of flaws as a function of remaining wall thickness will be presented along with the proposed system configuration for depot level or on-vehicle inspection capabilities.

  6. Plasma thrusters from Russia

    SciTech Connect

    Lerner, E.J.

    1992-09-01

    A report on the Russian stationary plasma thrusters having plasma accelerated to high velocities by electrical and magnetic forces is described. For specific impulses of 15-20 km/sec, optimal for such applications as satellite station keeping and orbital transfer, a unit supplying 0.05 N from a 2-kW input has a 30-cm-diameter nozzle.

  7. Space Experiments with Particle Accelerators (SEPAC)

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Obayashi, Tatsuzo

    1988-01-01

    The purpose of Space Experiments with Particle Accelerators (SEPAC) on the Atmospheric Laboratory for Applications and Science (ATLAS 1) mission, is to carry out active and interactive experiments on and in the earth's ionosphere, atmosphere, and magnetosphere. The instruments to be used are an electron beam accelerator (EBA), plasma contactor, and associated instruments the purpose of which is to perform diagnostic, monitoring, and general data taking functions. Four major classes of investigations are to be performed by SEPAC. They are: beam plasma physics, beam-atmosphere interactions, the use of modulated electron beams as transmitting antennas, and the use of electron beams for remote sensing of electric and magnetic fields. The first class consists mainly of onboard plasma physics experiments to measure the effects of phenomena in the vicinity of the shuttle. The last three are concerned with remote effects and are supported by other ATLAS 1 investigations as well as by ground-based observations.

  8. Miniature Electrostatic Ion Thruster With Magnet

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Hartley, Frank T.

    2006-01-01

    A miniature electrostatic ion thruster is proposed that, with one exception, would be based on the same principles as those of the device described in the previous article, "Miniature Bipolar Electrostatic Ion Thruster". The exceptional feature of this thruster would be that, in addition to using electric fields for linear acceleration of ions and electrons, it would use a magnetic field to rotationally accelerate slow electrons into the ion stream to neutralize the ions.

  9. Enhanced Performance of Cylindrical Hall Thrusters

    SciTech Connect

    Y. Raitses, A. Smirnov, and N.J. Fisch

    2007-05-14

    The cylindrical thruster differs significantly in its underlying physical mechanisms from the conventional annular Hall thruster. It features high ionization efficiency, quiet operation, ion acceleration in a large volume-to-surface ratio channel, and performance comparable with the state-of-the-art conventional Hall thrusters. Very significant plume narrowing, accompanied by the increase of the energetic ion fraction and improvement of ion focusing, led to 50%–60% increase of the thruster anode efficiency. These improvements were achieved by overrunning the discharge current in the magnetized thruster plasma.

  10. Enhanced performance of cylindrical Hall thrusters

    SciTech Connect

    Raitses, Y.; Smirnov, A.; Fisch, N. J.

    2007-05-28

    The cylindrical thruster differs significantly in its underlying physical mechanisms from the conventional annular Hall thruster. It features high ionization efficiency, quiet operation, ion acceleration in a large volume-to-surface ratio channel, and performance comparable with the state-of-the-art conventional Hall thrusters. Very significant plume narrowing, accompanied by the increase of the energetic ion fraction and improvement of ion focusing, led to 50%-60% increase of the thruster anode efficiency. These improvements were achieved by overrunning the discharge current in the magnetized thruster plasma.

  11. The electrodeless Lorentz force thruster experiment

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Weber, Thomas E.

    The Electrodeless Lorentz Force (ELF) thruster is a novel type of plasma thruster, which utilizes Rotating Magnetic Field current drive within a diverging magnetic field to form, accelerate, and eject a Field Reversed Configuration plasmoid. The ELF program is a result of a Small Business Technology Transfer grant awarded to MSNW LLC by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research for the research of the revolutionary space propulsion concept represented by ELF. These grants are awarded to small businesses working in collaboration with a university, in this case, the University of Washington. The program was split into two concurrent research efforts; a numerical modeling study undertaken at the UW branch of the Plasma Science and Innovation Center, and an experimental effort taking place at the UW Plasma Dynamics Laboratory with additional support from MSNW (the latter being the subject of this dissertation). It is the aim of this dissertation is to present to the reader the necessary background information needed to understand the operation of the ELF thruster, an overview of the experimental setup, a review of the significant experimental findings, and a discussion regarding the operation and performance of the thruster.

  12. Helical plasma thruster

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Beklemishev, A. D.

    2015-10-01

    A new scheme of plasma thruster is proposed. It is based on axial acceleration of rotating magnetized plasmas in magnetic field with helical corrugation. The idea is that the propellant ionization zone can be placed into the local magnetic well, so that initially the ions are trapped. The E × B rotation is provided by an applied radial electric field that makes the setup similar to a magnetron discharge. Then, from the rotating plasma viewpoint, the magnetic wells of the helically corrugated field look like axially moving mirror traps. Specific shaping of the corrugation can allow continuous acceleration of trapped plasma ions along the magnetic field by diamagnetic forces. The accelerated propellant is expelled through the expanding field of magnetic nozzle. By features of the acceleration principle, the helical plasma thruster may operate at high energy densities but requires a rather high axial magnetic field, which places it in the same class as the VASIMR® rocket engine.

  13. Helical plasma thruster

    SciTech Connect

    Beklemishev, A. D.

    2015-10-15

    A new scheme of plasma thruster is proposed. It is based on axial acceleration of rotating magnetized plasmas in magnetic field with helical corrugation. The idea is that the propellant ionization zone can be placed into the local magnetic well, so that initially the ions are trapped. The E × B rotation is provided by an applied radial electric field that makes the setup similar to a magnetron discharge. Then, from the rotating plasma viewpoint, the magnetic wells of the helically corrugated field look like axially moving mirror traps. Specific shaping of the corrugation can allow continuous acceleration of trapped plasma ions along the magnetic field by diamagnetic forces. The accelerated propellant is expelled through the expanding field of magnetic nozzle. By features of the acceleration principle, the helical plasma thruster may operate at high energy densities but requires a rather high axial magnetic field, which places it in the same class as the VASIMR{sup ®} rocket engine.

  14. NASA GRC High Power Electromagnetic Thruster Program

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    LaPointe, Michael R.; Pensil, Eric J.

    2004-01-01

    High-power electromagnetic thrusters have been proposed as primary in-space propulsion options for several bold new interplanetary and deep-space missions. As the lead center for electric propulsion, the NASA Glenn Research Center designs, develops, and tests high-power electromagnetic technologies to meet these demanding mission requirements. Two high-power thruster concepts currently under investigation by Glenn are the magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) thruster and the Pulsed Inductive Thruster (PIT). This paper describes the MPD thruster and the test facility.

  15. Space experiments with particle accelerators. [Spacelab

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Obayashi, T.

    1981-01-01

    The purpose of space experiments with particle accelerators (SEPAC) is to carry out active and interactive experiments on and in the Earth's ionosphere and magnetosphere. It is also intended to make an initial performance test for an overall program of Spacelab/SEPAC experiments. The instruments to be used are an electron beam accelerator, magnetoplasma dynamic arcjet, and associated diagnostic equipment. The accelerators are installed on the pallet, with monitoring and diagnostic observations being made by the gas plume release, beam-monitor TV, and particle-wave measuring instruments also mounted on the pallet. Command and display systems are installed in the module. Three major classes of investigations to be performed are vehicle charge neutralization, beam plasma physics, and beam atmosphere interactions. The first two are mainly onboard plasma physics experiments to measure the effect of phenomena in the vicinity of Spacelab. The last one is concerned with atmospheric modification and is supported by other Spacelab 1 investigations as well as by ground-based, remote sensing observations.

  16. Ion Thruster Support and Positioning System

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Haag, Thomas W. (Inventor)

    1998-01-01

    A system for supporting and selectively positioning an ion thruster relative to a surface of a spacecraft includes three angularly spaced thruster support assemblies. Each thruster support assembly includes a frame which has a rotary actuator mounted thereon. The rotary actuator is connected to an actuator member which is rotatably connected to a thruster attachment member connected to a body of the thruster. A stabilizer member is rotatably mounted to the frame and to the thruster attachment member. The thruster is selectively movable in the pitch and yaw directions responsive to movement of the actuator members by the actuators on the thruster support assemblies. A failure of any one actuator on a thruster support assembly will generally still enable limited thruster positioning capability in two directions. In a retracted position the thruster attachment members are held in nested relation in saddles supported on the frames of the thruster support assemblies. The thruster is securely held in the retracted position during periods of high loading such as during launch of the spacecraft.

  17. Design and Preliminary Performance Testing of Electronegative Gas Plasma Thruster

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Liu, Thomas M.; Schloeder, Natalie R.; Walker, Mitchell L. R.; Polzin, Kurt A.; Dankanich, John W.; Aanesland, Ane

    2014-01-01

    In classical gridded electrostatic ion thrusters, positively charged ions are generated from a plasma discharge of noble gas propellant and accelerated to provide thrust. To maintain overall charge balance on the propulsion system, a separate electron source is required to neutralize the ion beam as it exits the thruster. However, if high-electronegativity propellant gases (e.g., sulfur hexafluoride) are instead used, a plasma discharge can result consisting of both positively and negatively charged ions. Extracting such electronegative plasma species for thrust generation (e.g., with time-varying, bipolar ion optics) would eliminate the need for a separate neutralizer cathode subsystem. In addition for thrusters utilizing a RF plasma discharge, further simplification of the ion thruster power system may be possible by also using the RF power supply to bias the ion optics. Recently, the PEGASES (Plasma propulsion with Electronegative gases) thruster prototype successfully demonstrated proof-of-concept operations in alternatively accelerating positively and negatively charged ions from a RF discharge of a mixture of argon and sulfur hexafluoride.i In collaboration with NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), the Georgia Institute of Technology High-Power Electric Propulsion Laboratory (HPEPL) is applying the lessons learned from PEGASES design and testing to develop a new thruster prototype. This prototype will incorporate design improvements and undergo gridless operational testing and diagnostics checkout at HPEPL in April 2014. Performance mapping with ion optics will be conducted at NASA MSFC starting in May 2014. The proposed paper discusses the design and preliminary performance testing of this electronegative gas plasma thruster prototype.

  18. Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy in a running Hall Effect Thruster for space propulsion

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Balika, L.; Focsa, C.; Gurlui, S.; Pellerin, S.; Pellerin, N.; Pagnon, D.; Dudeck, M.

    2012-08-01

    Hall Effect Thrusters (HETs) are promising electric propulsion devices for the station-keeping of geostationary satellites and for interplanetary missions. The main limiting factor of the HET lifetime is the erosion of the annular channel ceramic walls. Erosion monitoring has been performed in the laboratory using optical emission spectroscopy (OES) measurements and data treatment based on the coronal model and the actinometric hypothesis. This study uses laser ablation of the ceramic wall in a running HET in order to introduce controlled amounts of sputtered material in the thruster plasma. The transient laser-induced breakdown plasma expands orthogonally in a steady-state plasma jet created by the HET discharge. The proposed spectroscopic method involves species from both plasmas (B, Xe, Xe+). The optical emission signal is correlated to the ablated volume (measured by profilometry) leading to the first direct validation of the actinometric hypothesis in this frame and opening the road for calibration of in-flight erosion monitoring based on the OES method.

  19. Electric thruster research

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Kaufman, H. R.; Robinson, R. S.

    1982-01-01

    It has been customary to assume that ions flow nearly equally in all directions from the ion production region within an electron-bombardment discharge chamber. In general, the electron current through a magnetic field can alter the electron density, and hence the ion density, in such a way that ions tend to be directed away from the region bounded by the magnetic field. When this mechanism is understood, it becomes evident that many past discharge chamber designs have operated with a preferentially directed flow of ions. Thermal losses were calculated for an oxide-free hollow cathode. At low electron emissions, the total of the radiation and conduction losses agreed with the total discharge power. At higher emissions, though, the plasma collisions external to the cathode constituted an increasingly greater fraction of the discharge power. Experimental performance of a Hall-current thruster was adversely affected by nonuniformities in the magnetic field, produced by the cathode heating current. The technology of closed-drift thrusters was reviewed. The experimental electron diffusion in the acceleration channel was found to be within about a factor of 3 of the Bohm value for the better thruster designs at most operating conditions. Thruster efficiencies of about 0.5 appear practical for the 1000 to 2000 s range of specific impulse. Lifetime information is limited, but values of several thousands of hours should be possible with anode layer thrusters operated or = to 2000 s.

  20. U.S. Space Station Freedom waste fluid disposal system with consideration of hydrazine waste gas injection thrusters

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Winters, Brian A.

    1990-01-01

    The results are reported of a study of various methods for propulsively disposing of waste gases. The options considered include hydrazine waste gas injection, resistojets, and eutectic salt phase change heat beds. An overview is given of the waste gas disposal system and how hydrozine waste gas injector thruster is implemented within it. Thruster performance for various gases are given and comparisons with currently available thruster models are made. The impact of disposal on station propellant requirements and electrical power usage are addressed. Contamination effects, reliability and maintainability assessments, safety issues, and operational scenarios of the waste gas thruster and disposal system are considered.

  1. Initial Experiments of a New Permanent Magnet Helicon Thruster

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sheehan, J. P.; Longmier, Benjamin

    2013-09-01

    A new design for a permanent magnet helicon thruster is presented. Its small plasma volume (~10 cm-3) and low power requirements (<100 W) make it ideal for propelling nanosatellites (<10 kg). The magnetic field reached a maximum of 500 G in the throat of a converging-diverging nozzle and decreased to 0.5 G, the strength of earth's magnetic field, within 50 cm allowing the entire exhaust plume to develop in the vacuum chamber without being affected by the chamber walls. Low gas flow rates (~4 sccm) and high pumping speeds (~10,000 l/s) were used to more closely approximate the conditions of space. A parametric study of the thruster operational parameters was performed to determine its capabilities as both a thruster and as a plasma source for magnetic nozzle experiments. The plasma density, electron temperature, and plasma potential were measured in the plume to characterize the ion acceleration mechanism.

  2. Characteristics of the XHT-100 Low Power Hall Thruster Prototype

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Andrenucci, M.; Berti, M.; Biagioni, L.; Cesari, U.; Saverdi, M.

    2004-10-01

    Several space applications indicate the possibility to adopt Mini Hall Thrusters, with discharge power in the range 50 to 200 W, among existing electric thruster propulsion technologies, to match mission propulsion requirements. A nominally 100W Hall Effect Thruster prototype (with an alumina acceleration chamber diameter slightly larger than 29 mm) has been recently designed and manufactured by Alta and Centrospazio, with the purpose of performing a wide range parametric exploration of the main engineering and physical aspects relevant to these devices at low power. During 2004 a preliminary experimental characterization has been performed in Alta's IV-4 test facility (in Pisa, Italy), a 2 m dia. 4 m length AISI 316 L vacuum chamber, equipped with a set of 6 tailored cryopumping surfaces with a total pumping speed on Xe in the order of 70000 l/s. Additional tests will be performed at ESA- ESTEC Electric Propulsion Laboratory (in the Netherlands).

  3. Temperature Gradient in Hall Thrusters

    SciTech Connect

    D. Staack; Y. Raitses; N.J. Fisch

    2003-11-24

    Plasma potentials and electron temperatures were deduced from emissive and cold floating probe measurements in a 2 kW Hall thruster, operated in the discharge voltage range of 200-400 V. An almost linear dependence of the electron temperature on the plasma potential was observed in the acceleration region of the thruster both inside and outside the thruster. This result calls into question whether secondary electron emission from the ceramic channel walls plays a significant role in electron energy balance. The proportionality factor between the axial electron temperature gradient and the electric field is significantly smaller than might be expected by models employing Ohmic heating of electrons.

  4. Iodine Hall Thruster

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Szabo, James

    2015-01-01

    Iodine enables dramatic mass and cost savings for lunar and Mars cargo missions, including Earth escape and near-Earth space maneuvers. The demonstrated throttling ability of iodine is important for a singular thruster that might be called upon to propel a spacecraft from Earth to Mars or Venus. The ability to throttle efficiently is even more important for missions beyond Mars. In the Phase I project, Busek Company, Inc., tested an existing Hall thruster, the BHT-8000, on iodine propellant. The thruster was fed by a high-flow iodine feed system and supported by an existing Busek hollow cathode flowing xenon gas. The Phase I propellant feed system was evolved from a previously demonstrated laboratory feed system. Throttling of the thruster between 2 and 11 kW at 200 to 600 V was demonstrated. Testing showed that the efficiency of iodine fueled BHT-8000 is the same as with xenon, with iodine delivering a slightly higher thrust-to-power (T/P) ratio. In Phase II, a complete iodine-fueled system was developed, including the thruster, hollow cathode, and iodine propellant feed system. The nominal power of the Phase II system is 8 kW; however, it can be deeply throttled as well as clustered to much higher power levels. The technology also can be scaled to greater than 100 kW per thruster to support megawatt-class missions. The target thruster efficiency for the full-scale system is 65 percent at high specific impulse (Isp) (approximately 3,000 s) and 60 percent at high thrust (Isp approximately 2,000 s).

  5. Space Experiments with Particle Accelerators (SEPAC)

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Obayashi, T.; Kawashima, N.; Kuriki, K.; Nagatomo, M.; Ninomiya, K.; Sasaki, S.; Ushirokawa, A.; Kudo, I.; Ejiri, M.; Roberts, W. T.

    1982-01-01

    Plans for SEPAC, an instrument array to be used on Spacelab 1 to study vehicle charging and neutralization, beam-plasma interaction in space, beam-atmospheric interaction exciting artificial aurora and airglow, and the electromagnetic-field configuration of the magnetosphere, are presented. The hardware, consisting of electron beam accelerator, magnetoplasma arcjet, neutral-gas plume generator, power supply, diagnostic package (photometer, plasma probes, particle analyzers, and plasma-wave package), TV monitor, and control and data-management unit, is described. The individual SEPAC experiments, the typical operational sequence, and the general outline of the SEPAC follow-on mission are discussed. Some of the experiments are to be joint ventures with AEPI (INS 003) and will be monitored by low-light-level TV.

  6. Space-charge limits in linear accelerators

    SciTech Connect

    Wangler, T.P.

    1980-12-01

    This report presents equations that allow an approximate evaluation of the limiting beam current for a large class of radio-frequency linear accelerators, which use quadrupole strong focusing. Included are the Alvarez, the Wideroe, and the radio-frequency quadrupole linacs. The limiting-current formulas are presented for both the longitudinal and the transverse degrees of freedom by assuming that the average space-charge force in the beam bunch arises from a uniformly distributed charge within an azimuthally symmetric three-dimensional ellipsoid. The Mathieu equation is obtained as an approximate, but general, form for the transverse equation of motion. The smooth-approximation method is used to obtain a solution and an expression for the transverse current limit. The form of the current-limit formulas for different linac constraints is discussed.

  7. Space Experiments with Particle Accelerators (SEPAC)

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Taylor, William W. L.

    1994-01-01

    The scientific emphasis of this contract has been on the physics of beam ionosphere interactions, in particular, what are the plasma wave levels stimulated by the Space Experiments with Particle Accelerators (SEPAC) electron beam as it is ejected from the Electron Beam Accelerator (EBA) and passes into and through the ionosphere. There were two different phenomena expected. The first was generation of plasma waves by the interaction of the DC component of the beam with the plasma of the ionosphere, by wave particle interactions. The second was the generation of waves at the pulsing frequency of the beam (AC component). This is referred to as using the beam as a virtual antenna, because the beam of electrons is a coherent electrical current confined to move along the earth's magnetic field. As in a physical antenna, a conductor at a radio or TV station, the beam virtual antenna radiates electromagnetic waves at the frequency of the current variations. These two phenomena were investigated during the period of this contract.

  8. The development of reactive fuel grains for pyrophoric relight of in-space hybrid rocket thrusters

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Steiner, Matthew Wellington

    This study presents and investigates a novel hybrid fuel grain that reacts pyrophorically with gaseous oxidizer to achieve restart of a hybrid rocket motor propulsion system while reducing cost and handling concerns. This reactive fuel grain (RFG) relies on the pyrophoric nature of finely divided metal particles dispersed in a solid dicyclopentadiene (DCPD) binder, which has been shown to encapsulate air-sensitive additives until they are exposed to combustion gases. An RFG is thus effectively inert in open air in the absence of an ignition source, though the particles encapsulated within remain pyrophoric. In practice, this means that an RFG that is ignited in the vacuum of space and then extinguished will expose unoxidized pyrophoric particles, which can be used to generate sufficient heat to relight the propellant when oxidizer is flowed. The experiments outlined in this work aim to develop a suitable pyrophoric material for use in an RFG, demonstrate pyrophoric relight, and characterize performance under conditions relevant to a hybrid rocket thruster. Magnesium, lithium, calcium, and an alloy of titanium, chromium, and manganese (TiCrMn) were investigated to determine suitability of pure metals as RFG additives. Additionally, aluminum hydride (AlH3), lithium aluminum hydride (LiAlH4), lithium borohydride (LiBH4), and magnesium hydride (MgH2) were investigated to determine suitability of metals hydrides as RFG additives or as precursors for pure-metal RFG additives. Pyrophoric metals have been previously investigated as additives for increasing the regression rate of hybrid fuels, but to the author's knowledge, these materials have not been specifically investigated for their ability to ignite a propellant pyrophorically. Commercial research-grade metals were obtained as coarse powders, then ball-milled to attempt to reduce particle size below a critical diameter needed for pyrophoricity. Magnesium hydride was ball-milled and then cycled in a hydride cycling

  9. NASA GRC High Power Electromagnetic Thruster Program

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lapointe, Michael R.; Pencil, Eric J.

    2004-02-01

    Interest in high power electromagnetic propulsion has been revived to support a variety of future space missions, such as platform maneuvering in low earth orbit, cost-effective cargo transport to lunar and Mars bases, asteroid and outer planet sample return, deep space robotic exploration, and piloted missions to Mars and the outer planets. Magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) thrusters have demonstrated, at the laboratory level, the capacity to process megawatts of electrical power while providing higher thrust densities than current electric propulsion systems. The ability to generate higher thrust densities permits a reduction in the number of thrusters required to perform a given mission and alleviates the system complexity associated with multiple thruster arrays. The specific impulse of an MPD thruster can be optimized to meet given mission requirements, from a few thousand seconds with heavier gas propellants up to 10,000 seconds with hydrogen propellant. In support of NASA space science and human exploration strategic initiatives, Glenn Research Center is developing and testing pulsed, MW-class MPD thrusters as a prelude to long-duration high power thruster tests. The research effort includes numerical modeling of self-field and applied-field MPD thrusters and experimental testing of quasi-steady MW-class MPD thrusters in a high power pulsed thruster facility. This paper provides an overview of the GRC high power electromagnetic thruster program and the pulsed thruster test facility.

  10. Scale Model Thruster Acoustic Measurement Results

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Kenny, R. Jeremy; Vargas, Magda B.

    2013-01-01

    Subscale rocket acoustic data is used to predict acoustic environments for full scale rockets. Over the last several years acoustic data has been collected during horizontal tests of solid rocket motors. Space Launch System (SLS) Scale Model Acoustic Test (SMAT) was designed to evaluate the acoustics of the SLS vehicle including the liquid engines and solid rocket boosters. SMAT is comprised of liquid thrusters scalable to the Space Shuttle Main engines (SSME) and Rocket Assisted Take Off (RATO) motors scalable to the 5-segment Reusable Solid Rocket Motor (RSTMV). Horizontal testing of the liquid thrusters provided an opportunity to collect acoustic data from liquid thrusters to characterize the acoustic environments. Acoustic data was collected during the horizontal firings of a single thruster and a 4-thruster (Quad) configuration. Presentation scope. Discuss the results of the single and 4-thruster acoustic measurements. Compare the measured acoustic levels of the liquid thrusters to the Solid Rocket Test Motor V - Nozzle 2 (SRTMV-N2).

  11. NEXT Propellant Management System Integration With Multiple Ion Thrusters

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Sovey, James S.; Soulas, George C.; Herman, Daniel A.

    2011-01-01

    As a critical part of the NEXT test validation process, a multiple-string integration test was performed on the NEXT propellant management system and ion thrusters. The objectives of this test were to verify that the PMS is capable of providing stable flow control to multiple thrusters operating over the NEXT system throttling range and to demonstrate to potential users that the NEXT PMS is ready for transition to flight. A test plan was developed for the sub-system integration test for verification of PMS and thruster system performance and functionality requirements. Propellant management system calibrations were checked during the single and multi-thruster testing. The low pressure assembly total flow rates to the thruster(s) were within 1.4 percent of the calibrated support equipment flow rates. The inlet pressures to the main, cathode, and neutralizer ports of Thruster PM1R were measured as the PMS operated in 1-thruster, 2-thruster, and 3-thruster configurations. It was found that the inlet pressures to Thruster PM1R for 2-thruster and 3-thruster operation as well as single thruster operation with the PMS compare very favorably indicating that flow rates to Thruster PM1R were similar in all cases. Characterizations of discharge losses, accelerator grid current, and neutralizer performance were performed as more operating thrusters were added to the PMS. There were no variations in these parameters as thrusters were throttled and single and multiple thruster operations were conducted. The propellant management system power consumption was at a fixed voltage to the DCIU and a fixed thermal throttle temperature of 75 C. The total power consumed by the PMS was 10.0, 17.9, and 25.2 W, respectively, for single, 2-thruster, and 3-thruster operation with the PMS. These sub-system integration tests of the PMS, the DCIU Simulator, and multiple thrusters addressed, in part, the NEXT PMS and propulsion system performance and functionality requirements.

  12. Magnetoplasmadynamic Thruster Workshop

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1991-01-01

    On May 16, 1991, the NASA Headquarters Propulsion, Power, and Energy Division and the NASA Lewis Research Center Low Thrust Propulsion Branch hosted a workshop attended by key experts in magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) thrusters and associated sciences. The scope was limited to high power MPD thrusters suitable for major NASA space exploration missions, and its purpose was to initiate the process of increasing the expectations and prospects for MPD research, primarily by increasing the level of cooperation, interaction, and communication between parties within the MPD community.

  13. Pulsed Plasma Thruster

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    2002-01-01

    Dr. Tom Markusic, a propulsion research engineer at the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), adjusts a diagnostic laser while a pulsed plasma thruster (PPT) fires in a vacuum chamber in the background. NASA/MSFC's Propulsion Research Center (PRC) is presently investigating plasma propulsion for potential use on future nuclear-powered spacecraft missions, such as human exploration of Mars.

  14. A Pulsed Laser-Electromagnetic Hybrid Accelerator For Space Propulsion Application

    SciTech Connect

    Shinohara, Tadaki; Horisawa, Hideyuki; Baba, Msahumi; Tei, Kazuyoku

    2010-05-06

    A fundamental study of a newly developed rectangular pulsed laser-electromagnetic hybrid thruster was conducted, in which laser-ablation plasma was induced through laser beam irradiation onto a solid target and accelerated by electrical means instead of direct acceleration only by using a laser beam. The performance of the thruster was evaluated by measuring the mass per shot and impulse bit. As results, significantly high specific impulse ranging from 5,000 approx6,000 sec were obtained at energies of 0.1 and 8.6 J, respectively. In addition, the typical thrust efficiency varied from 17% to 19% depending on the charge energy.

  15. Electron dynamics in Hall thruster

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Marini, Samuel; Pakter, Renato

    2015-11-01

    Hall thrusters are plasma engines those use an electromagnetic fields combination to confine electrons, generate and accelerate ions. Widely used by aerospace industries those thrusters stand out for its simple geometry, high specific impulse and low demand for electric power. Propulsion generated by those systems is due to acceleration of ions produced in an acceleration channel. The ions are generated by collision of electrons with propellant gas atoms. In this context, we can realize how important is characterizing the electronic dynamics. Using Hamiltonian formalism, we derive the electron motion equation in a simplified electromagnetic fields configuration observed in hall thrusters. We found conditions those must be satisfied by electromagnetic fields to have electronic confinement in acceleration channel. We present configurations of electromagnetic fields those maximize propellant gas ionization and thus make propulsion more efficient. This work was supported by CNPq.

  16. Electron-wall Interaction in Hall Thrusters

    SciTech Connect

    Y. Raitses; D. Staack; M. Keidar; N.J. Fisch

    2005-02-11

    Electron-wall interaction effects in Hall thrusters are studied through measurements of the plasma response to variations of the thruster channel width and the discharge voltage. The discharge voltage threshold is shown to separate two thruster regimes. Below this threshold, the electron energy gain is constant in the acceleration region and therefore, secondary electron emission (SEE) from the channel walls is insufficient to enhance electron energy losses at the channel walls. Above this voltage threshold, the maximum electron temperature saturates.

  17. 20-mN Variable Specific Impulse (Isp) Colloid Thruster

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Demmons, Nathaniel

    2015-01-01

    Busek Company, Inc., has designed and manufactured an electrospray emitter capable of generating 20 mN in a compact package (7x7x1.7 in). The thruster consists of nine porous-surface emitters operating in parallel from a common propellant supply. Each emitter is capable of supporting over 70,000 electrospray emission sites with the plume from each emitter being accelerated through a single aperture, eliminating the need for individual emission site alignment to an extraction grid. The total number of emission sites during operation is expected to approach 700,000. This Phase II project optimized and characterized the thruster fabricated during the Phase I effort. Additional porous emitters also were fabricated for full-scale testing. Propellant is supplied to the thruster via existing feed-system and microvalve technology previously developed by Busek, under the NASA Space Technology 7's Disturbance Reduction System (ST7-DRS) mission and via follow-on electric propulsion programs. This project investigated methods for extending thruster life beyond the previously demonstrated 450 hours. The life-extending capabilities will be demonstrated on a subscale version of the thruster.

  18. Acceleration and Focusing of Plasma Flows

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Griswold, Martin E.

    The acceleration of flowing plasmas is a fundamental problem that is useful in a wide variety of technological applications. We consider the problem from the perspective of plasma propulsion. Gridded ion thrusters and Hall thrusters are the most commonly used devices to create flowing plasma for space propulsion, but both suffer from fundamental limitations. Gridded ion sources create good quality beams in terms of energy spread and spatial divergence, but the Child-Langmuir law in the non-neutral acceleration region limits the maximum achievable current density. Hall thrusters avoid this limitation by accelerating ions in quasi-neutral plasma but, as a result, produce plumes with high spatial divergence and large energy spread. In addition the more complicated magnetized plasma in the Hall Thruster produces oscillations that can reduce the efficiency of the thruster by increasing electron transport to the anode. We present investigations of three techniques to address the fundamental limitations on the performance of each thruster. First, we propose a method to increase the time-averaged current density (and thus thrust density) produced by a gridded ion source above the Child-Langmuir limit by introducing time-varying boundary conditions. Next, we use an electrostatic plasma lens to focus the Hall thruster plume, and finally we develop a technique to suppress a prominent oscillation that degrades the performance of Hall thrusters. The technique to loosen the constraints on current density from gridded ion thrusters actually applies much more broadly to any space charge limited flow. We investigate the technique with a numerical simulation and by proving a theoretical upper bound. While we ultimately conclude that the approach is not suitable for space propulsion, our results proved useful in another area, providing a benchmark for research into the spontaneously time-dependent current that arises in microdiodes. Next, we experimentally demonstrate a novel

  19. Magnesium Hall Thruster

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Szabo, James J.

    2015-01-01

    This Phase II project is developing a magnesium (Mg) Hall effect thruster system that would open the door for in situ resource utilization (ISRU)-based solar system exploration. Magnesium is light and easy to ionize. For a Mars- Earth transfer, the propellant mass savings with respect to a xenon Hall effect thruster (HET) system are enormous. Magnesium also can be combusted in a rocket with carbon dioxide (CO2) or water (H2O), enabling a multimode propulsion system with propellant sharing and ISRU. In the near term, CO2 and H2O would be collected in situ on Mars or the moon. In the far term, Mg itself would be collected from Martian and lunar regolith. In Phase I, an integrated, medium-power (1- to 3-kW) Mg HET system was developed and tested. Controlled, steady operation at constant voltage and power was demonstrated. Preliminary measurements indicate a specific impulse (Isp) greater than 4,000 s was achieved at a discharge potential of 400 V. The feasibility of delivering fluidized Mg powder to a medium- or high-power thruster also was demonstrated. Phase II of the project evaluated the performance of an integrated, highpower Mg Hall thruster system in a relevant space environment. Researchers improved the medium power thruster system and characterized it in detail. Researchers also designed and built a high-power (8- to 20-kW) Mg HET. A fluidized powder feed system supporting the high-power thruster was built and delivered to Busek Company, Inc.

  20. Electric thruster research

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Kaufman, H. R.; Robinson, R. S.

    1981-01-01

    The multipole discharge chamber of an electrostatic ion thruster is discussed. No reductions in discharge losses were obtained, despite repeated demonstration of anode potentials more positive than the bulk of the discharge plasma. The penalty associated with biased anode operation was reduced as the magnetic integral above the biased anodes was increased. The hollow cathode is discussed. The experimental configuration of the Hall current thruster had a uniform field throughout the ion generation and acceleration regions. To obtain reliable ion generation, it was necessary to reduce the magnetic field strength, to the point where excessive electron backflow was required to establish ion acceleration. The theoretical study of ion acceleration with closed electron drift paths resulted in two classes of solutions. One class has the continuous potential variation in the acceleration region that is normally associated with a Hall current accelerator. The other class has an almost discontinuous potential step near the anode end of the acceleration region. This step includes a significant fraction of the total acceleration potential difference.

  1. Computational modeling of Hall thruster channel wall erosion

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Yim, John Tamin

    Hall thrusters, a type of space electric propulsion, offer high specific impulses attractive for a variety of space missions. As lifetime requirements desired for Hall thruster operations increase, there is a greater need to be able to predict and analyze the wear of the thruster over time. The main mechanism of Hall thruster failure is the erosion of the acceleration channel walls to the point where the magnetic circuit is exposed to the plasma flow. Experimental testing to determine the rate and extent of wall erosion is time consuming and expensive. Thus, capturing the erosion process through computational simulations is a useful means of predicting lifetime for design and analysis purposes. Two models are employed to simulate the erosion process. The first is a hydrodynamic model that is used to describe the plasma flow within the thruster and to calculate the ion fluxes to the thruster channel walls. The second method is a molecular dynamics model that is used to calculate the sputter yields for the wall material based on the incoming ion fluxes. The results of these two methods are used together to simulate the erosion of the channel walls and their evolution over time. Three test cases are analyzed. The hydrodynamic model is used to compare the differences between krypton and xenon propellants in the NASA-173Mv1 Hall thruster. The molecular dynamics model is used to calculate the sputter yields of hexagonal boron nitride due to low-energy xenon ions. Both methods are used to model the erosion of the channel walls of an SPT-100 Hall thruster over a 4000-hour life test. The computational results are compared to available experimental results for all three cases along with additional analysis. This work represents the only known use of a fluid-based plasma model for Hall thruster erosion simulations. It also contains the only use of a molecular dynamics model without additional surface binding energy assumptions for boron nitride sputtering simulations. Results

  2. Advanced ion thruster and electrochemical launcher research

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Wilbur, P. J.

    1983-01-01

    The theoretical model of orificed hollow cathode operation predicted experimentally observed cathode performance with reasonable accuracy. The deflection and divergence characteristics of ion beamlets emanating from a two grid optics system as a function of the relative offset of screen and accel grids hole axes were described. Ion currents associated with discharge chamber operation were controlled to improve ion thruster performance markedly. Limitations imposed by basic physical laws on reductions in screen grid hole size and grid spacing for ion optics systems were described. The influence of stray magnetic fields in the vicinity of a neutralizer on the performance of that neutralizer was demonstrated. The ion current density extracted from a thruster was enhanced by injecting electrons into the region between its ion accelerating grids. Theoretical analysis of the electrothermal ramjet concept of launching space bound payloads at high acceleration levels is described. The operation of this system is broken down into two phases. In the light gas gun phase the payload is accelerated to the velocity at which the ramjet phase can commence. Preliminary models of operation are examined and shown to yield overall energy efficiences for a typical Earth escape launch of 60 to 70%. When shock losses are incorporated these efficiencies are still observed to remain at the relatively high values of 40 to 50%.

  3. Ferroelectric plasma thruster for microspacecraft propulsion

    SciTech Connect

    Kemp, Mark A.; Kovaleski, Scott D.

    2006-12-01

    This paper presents a technology in microthruster design: the ferroelectric plasma thruster (FEPT). The FEPT utilizes an applied rf electric field to create plasma on the surface of a ferroelectric dielectric. Acceleration of ions from this plasma provides thrust. Advantages of the FEPT include emission of both electrons and ions leading to self-neutralization, creation of plasma, and acceleration of ions with a single power supply, and application of thrust in a short amount of time. We present the concept of the thruster, operational physics, as well as experimental results demonstrating plasma creation and ion acceleration. These results along with plasma spectroscopy allow us to calculate thruster parameters.

  4. Plasma thruster development: magnetoplasmadynamic propulsion, status, and basic problems. Interim report, October 1984-September 1985

    SciTech Connect

    Buehler, R.D.

    1986-02-01

    This report provides an overview of the present state and the problem areas of magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) space-propulsion devices and systems potentially suitable for orbit raising and maneuvering of large space structures, i.e., thrust and power levels of presently most-promising steady (or quasisteady pulsed) thruster types, self-field, axial applied-field arcjets, and Hall ion thrusters are reviewed in terms of performance trends, present understanding, uncertainties and ground-testing problems, with the conclusion that there is as yet no reliable basis for choosing one type for final development. Typical efficiency vs. specific-impulse curves for all MPD thrusters show the dominant role of the propellant on the thrust to input power ratio (as for ion engines), and the necessity of achieving relatively high specific impulse values for each propellant for acceptable efficiencies. The specific-impulse (or onset) limit of self-field thrusters using a variety of propellants is discussed, together with predicted trends from several theoretical models. Considering system complexity and development cost as well as performance, the advantages and disadvantages if pulsed (quasisteady) vs. continuous thruster operation and the propellant selection criteria are reviewed. Electrode erosion, especially on cathodes, losses and limits imposed by radiation cooling are emphasized as critical problem areas for larger MPD thrusters. Besides the electrode attachments, the unresolved basis theoretical problems of efficient plasma acceleration and of the midstream flow discharge stability are identified, and proposed approaches towards gaining additional understanding are outlined.

  5. A Microwave Thruster for Spacecraft Propulsion

    SciTech Connect

    Chiravalle, Vincent P

    2012-07-23

    This presentation describes how a microwave thruster can be used for spacecraft propulsion. A microwave thruster is part of a larger class of electric propulsion devices that have higher specific impulse and lower thrust than conventional chemical rocket engines. Examples of electric propulsion devices are given in this presentation and it is shown how these devices have been used to accomplish two recent space missions. The microwave thruster is then described and it is explained how the thrust and specific impulse of the thruster can be measured. Calculations of the gas temperature and plasma properties in the microwave thruster are discussed. In addition a potential mission for the microwave thruster involving the orbit raising of a space station is explored.

  6. Accelerating video carving from unallocated space

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kalva, Hari; Parikh, Anish; Srinivasan, Avinash

    2013-03-01

    Video carving has become an essential tool in digital forensics. Video carving enables recovery of deleted video files from hard disks. Processing data to extract videos is a computationally intensive task. In this paper we present two methods to accelerate video carving: a method to accelerate fragment extraction, and a method to accelerate combining of these fragments into video segments. Simulation results show that complexity of video fragment extraction can be reduced by as much as 75% with minimal impact on the videos recovered.

  7. MPD thruster technology

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Myers, Roger M.

    1992-01-01

    The topics are presented in viewgraph form and include the following: in house program elements; performance measurements; applied-field magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) thruster performance scaling; MPD thruster technology; thermal efficiency scaling; anode fall voltage measurements; anode power deposition studies; MPD thruster plasma modeling; MPD thruster lifetime studies; and MPD thruster performance studies.

  8. Inert gas thrusters

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Kaufman, H. R.; Robinson, R. S.

    1979-01-01

    Inert gas thrusters considered for space propulsion systems were investigated. Electron diffusion across a magnetic field was examined utilizing a basic model. The production of doubly charged ions was correlated using only overall performance parameters. The use of this correlation is therefore possible in the design stage of large gas thrusters, where detailed plasma properties are not available. Argon hollow cathode performance was investigated over a range of emission currents, with the positions of the inert, keeper, and anode varied. A general trend observed was that the maximum ratio of emission to flow rate increased at higher propellant flow rates. It was also found that an enclosed keeper enhances maximum cathode emission at high flow rates. The maximum cathode emission at a given flow rate was associated with a noisy high voltage mode. Although this mode has some similarities to the plume mode found at low flows and emissions, it is encountered by being initially in the spot mode and increasing emission. A detailed analysis of large, inert-gas thruster performance was carried out. For maximum thruster efficiency, the optimum beam diameter increases from less than a meter at under 2000 sec specific impulse to several meters at 10,000 sec. The corresponding range in input power ranges from several kilowatts to megawatts.

  9. Space experiments with particle accelerators: SEPAC

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Roberts, B.

    1986-01-01

    The SEPAC instruments consist of an electron accelerator, a plasma accelerator, a neutral gas (N2) release device, particle and field diagnostic instruments, and a low light level television system. These instruments are used to accomplish multiple experiments: to study beam-particle interactions and other plasma processes; as probes to investigate magnetospheric processes; and as perturbation devices to study energy coupling mechanisms in the magnetosphere, ionosphere, and upper atmosphere.

  10. Coincident ion acceleration and electron extraction for space propulsion using the self-bias formed on a set of RF biased grids bounding a plasma source

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Rafalskyi, D.; Aanesland, A.

    2014-11-01

    We propose an alternative method to accelerate ions in classical gridded ion thrusters and ion sources such that co-extracted electrons from the source may provide beam space charge neutralization. In this way there is no need for an additional electron neutralizer. The method consists of applying RF voltage to a two-grid acceleration system via a blocking capacitor. Due to the unequal effective area of the two grids in contact with the plasma, a dc self-bias is formed, rectifying the applied RF voltage. As a result, ions are continuously accelerated within the grid system while electrons are emitted in brief instants within the RF period when the RF space charge sheath collapses. This paper presents the first experimental results and a proof-of-principle. Experiments are carried out using the Neptune thruster prototype which is a gridded Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP) source operated at 4 MHz, attached to a larger beam propagation chamber. The RF power supply is used both for the ICP discharge (plasma generation) and powering the acceleration grids via a capacitor for ion acceleration and electron extraction without any dc power supplies. The ion and electron energies, particle flux and densities are measured using retarding field energy analyzers (RFEA), Langmuir probes and a large beam target. The system operates in Argon and N2. The dc self-bias is found to be generated within the gridded extraction system in all the range of operating conditions. Broad quasi-neutral ion-electron beams are measured in the downstream chamber with energies up to 400 eV. The beams from the RF acceleration method are compared with classical dc acceleration with an additional external electron neutralizer. It is found that the two acceleration techniques provide similar performance, but the ion energy distribution function from RF acceleration is broader, while the floating potential of the beam is lower than for the dc accelerated beam.

  11. Improvement of Flow Characteristics for an Advanced Plasma Thruster

    SciTech Connect

    Inutake, M.; Hosokawa, Y.; Sato, R.; Ando, A.; Tobari, H.; Hattori, K

    2005-01-15

    A higher specific impulse and a larger thrust are required for a manned interplanetary space thruster. Until the realization of a fusion-plasma thruster, a magneto-plasma-dynamic arcjet (MPDA) powered by a fission reactor is one of the promising candidates for a manned Mars space thruster. The MPDA plasma is accelerated axially by a self-induced j x B force. Thrust performance of the MPDA is expected to increase by applying a magnetic nozzle instead of a solid nozzle. In order to get a much higher thruster performance, two methods have been investigated in the HITOP device, Tohoku University. One is to use a magnetic Laval nozzle in the vicinity of the MPDA muzzle for converting the high ion thermal energy to the axial flow energy. The other is to heat ions by use of an ICRF antenna in the divergent magnetic nozzle. It is found that by use of a small-sized Laval-type magnetic nozzle, the subsonic flow near the muzzle is converted to be supersonic through the magnetic Laval nozzle. A fast-flowing plasma is successfully heated by use of an ICRF antenna in the magnetic beach configuration.

  12. Proton and heavy ion acceleration facilities for space radiation research

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Miller, Jack

    2003-01-01

    The particles and energies commonly used for medium energy nuclear physics and heavy charged particle radiobiology and radiotherapy at particle accelerators are in the charge and energy range of greatest interest for space radiation health. In this article we survey some of the particle accelerator facilities in the United States and around the world that are being used for space radiation health and related research, and illustrate some of their capabilities with discussions of selected accelerator experiments applicable to the human exploration of space.

  13. Proton and heavy ion acceleration facilities for space radiation research.

    PubMed

    Miller, Jack

    2003-06-01

    The particles and energies commonly used for medium energy nuclear physics and heavy charged particle radiobiology and radiotherapy at particle accelerators are in the charge and energy range of greatest interest for space radiation health. In this article we survey some of the particle accelerator facilities in the United States and around the world that are being used for space radiation health and related research, and illustrate some of their capabilities with discussions of selected accelerator experiments applicable to the human exploration of space. PMID:12959128

  14. Measurements of neutral and ion velocity distribution functions in a Hall thruster

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Svarnas, Panagiotis; Romadanov, Iavn; Diallo, Ahmed; Raitses, Yevgeny

    2015-11-01

    Hall thruster is a plasma device for space propulsion. It utilizes a cross-field discharge to generate a partially ionized weakly collisional plasma with magnetized electrons and non-magnetized ions. The ions are accelerated by the electric field to produce the thrust. There is a relatively large number of studies devoted to characterization of accelerated ions, including measurements of ion velocity distribution function using laser-induced fluorescence diagnostic. Interactions of these accelerated ions with neutral atoms in the thruster and the thruster plume is a subject of on-going studies, which require combined monitoring of ion and neutral velocity distributions. Herein, laser-induced fluorescence technique has been employed to study neutral and single-charged ion velocity distribution functions in a 200 W cylindrical Hall thruster operating with xenon propellant. An optical system is installed in the vacuum chamber enabling spatially resolved axial velocity measurements. The fluorescence signals are well separated from the plasma background emission by modulating the laser beam and using lock-in detectors. Measured velocity distribution functions of neutral atoms and ions at different operating parameters of the thruster are reported and analyzed. This work was supported by DOE contract DE-AC02-09CH11466.

  15. A Small Modular Laboratory Hall Effect Thruster

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lee, Ty Davis

    Electric propulsion technologies promise to revolutionize access to space, opening the door for mission concepts unfeasible by traditional propulsion methods alone. The Hall effect thruster is a relatively high thrust, moderate specific impulse electric propulsion device that belongs to the class of electrostatic thrusters. Hall effect thrusters benefit from an extensive flight history, and offer significant performance and cost advantages when compared to other forms of electric propulsion. Ongoing research on these devices includes the investigation of mechanisms that tend to decrease overall thruster efficiency, as well as the development of new techniques to extend operational lifetimes. This thesis is primarily concerned with the design and construction of a Small Modular Laboratory Hall Effect Thruster (SMLHET), and its operation on argon propellant gas. Particular attention was addressed at low-cost, modular design principles, that would facilitate simple replacement and modification of key thruster parts such as the magnetic circuit and discharge channel. This capability is intended to facilitate future studies of device physics such as anomalous electron transport and magnetic shielding of the channel walls, that have an impact on thruster performance and life. Preliminary results demonstrate SMLHET running on argon in a manner characteristic of Hall effect thrusters, additionally a power balance method was utilized to estimate thruster performance. It is expected that future thruster studies utilizing heavier though more expensive gases like xenon or krypton, will observe increased efficiency and stability.

  16. NASA 30 Cm Ion Thruster Development Status

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Patterson, Michael J.; Haag, Thomas W.; Rawlin, Vincent K.; Kussmaul, Michael T.

    1995-01-01

    A 30 cm diameter xenon ion thruster is under development at NASA to provide an ion propulsion option for missions of national interest and it is an element of the NASA Solar Electric Propulsion Technology Applications Readiness (NSTAR) program established to validate ion propulsion for space flight applications. The thruster has been developed to an engineering model level and it incorporates innovations in design, materials, and fabrication techniques compared to those employed to conventional ion thrusters. The performance of both functional and engineering model thrusters has been assessed including thrust stand measurements, over an input power range of 0.5-2.3 kW. Attributes of the engineering model thruster include an overall mass of 6.4 kg, and an efficiency of 65 percent and thrust of 93 mN at 2.3 kW input power. This paper discusses the design, performance, and lifetime expectations of the functional and engineering model thrusters under development at NASA.

  17. Shuttle RCS primary thruster injector flow visualization

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Wells, Dennis L.

    1988-01-01

    An image-transmitting fiber-optics scope with a dry gas purge of the optics head has been used to visually evaluate the condition of surplus thrusters in the Space Shuttle's Reaction Control System; it was subsequently applied to flight thrusters. The technique uses water for flow visualization, and obviates thruster disassembly. The innovative use of gas purging of a fiber-optics head allows the unobstructed and distortion-free viewing of the flow streams, and testing has shown the technique to be ideally suited to injector flow assessments following thruster exposure to extensive contamination.

  18. Ultraviolet tomography of kink dynamics in a magnetoplasmadynamic thruster

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bonomo, F.; Paganucci, F.; Pomaro, N.

    2005-10-01

    We present the results of a project concerning the ultraviolet (UV) imaging of a plasma for space applications, produced in a magneto-plasmadynamic (MPD) thruster. MPD are a class of high power electric space propulsion devices that accelerate a plasma to high velocities (>10 km/s), by exploiting the Lorentz force between the discharge electrical current and a self induced and externally applied magnetic field. The imaging system has been realized by inserting 3 arrays of UV-enhanced photodiodes (with built-in amplifiers) directly into the plastic structure of the anode. This advanced diagnostic design allows for a detailed tomographic reconstruction of the emissivity spatial structure, both in the axial direction z (corresponding to a wavenumber n) and azimuthal direction (wavenumber m) with high time resolution. A magneto-hydrodynamic (MHD) instability, with mode numbers m=1 and n=1 has been observed, which might affect the performances of the thruster.

  19. Improvement of Space Shuttle Main Engine Low Frequency Acceleration Measurements

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Stec, Robert C.

    1999-01-01

    The noise floor of low frequency acceleration data acquired on the Space Shuttle Main Engines is higher than desirable. Difficulties of acquiring high quality acceleration data on this engine are discussed. The approach presented in this paper for reducing the acceleration noise floor focuses on a search for an accelerometer more capable of measuring low frequency accelerations. An overview is given of the current measurement system used to acquire engine vibratory data. The severity of vibration, temperature, and moisture environments are considered. Vibratory measurements from both laboratory and rocket engine tests are presented.

  20. Presentation on a Space Acceleration Measurement System (SAMS)

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Chase, Theodore L.

    1990-01-01

    The primary objective of the Space Acceleration Measurement Systems (SAMS) project is to provide an acceleration measurement system capable of serving a wide variety of space experiments. The design of the system being developed under this project takes into consideration requirements for experiments located in the middeck, in the orbiter bay, and in Spacelab. In addition to measuring, conditioning, and recording accelerations, the system will be capable of performing complex calculations and interactive control. The main components consist of a remote triaxial optical storage device. In operation, the triaxial sensor head produces output signals in response to acceleration inputs. These signals are preamplified, filtered and converted into digital data which is then transferred to optical memory. The system design is modular, facilitating both software and hardware upgrading as technology advances. Two complete acceleration measurement flight systems will be build and tested under this project.

  1. Improving the Total Impulse Capability of the NSTAR Ion Thruster With Thick-Accelerator-Grid Ion Optics

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Soulas, George C.

    2001-01-01

    The results of performance tests with thick-accelerator-grid (TAG) ion optics are presented. TAG ion optics utilize a 50 percent thicker accelerator grid to double ion optics' service life. NSTAR ion optics were also tested to provide a baseline performance for comparison. Impingement-limited total voltages for the TAG ion optics were only 0 to 15 V higher than those of the NSTAR ion optics. Electron backstreaming limits for the TAG ion optics were 3 to 9 V higher than those for the NSTAR optics due to the increased accelerator grid thickness for the TAG ion optics. Screen grid ion transparencies for the TAG ion optics were only about 2 percent lower than those for the NSTAR optics, reflecting the lower physical screen grid open area fraction of the TAG ion optics. Accelerator currents for the TAG ion optics were 19 to 43 percent greater than those for the NSTAR ion optics due, in part, to a sudden increase in accelerator current during TAG ion optics' performance tests for unknown reasons and to the lower-than-nominal accelerator aperture diameters. Beam divergence half-angles that enclosed 95 percent of the total beam current and beam divergence thrust correction factors for the TAG ion optics were within 2 degrees and 1 percent, respectively, of those for the NSTAR ion optics.

  2. High Power MPD Thruster Performance Measurements

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    LaPointe, Michael R.; Strzempkowski, Eugene; Pencil, Eric

    2004-01-01

    High power magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) thrusters are being developed as cost effective propulsion systems for cargo transport to lunar and Mars bases, crewed missions to Mars and the outer planets, and robotic deep space exploration missions. Electromagnetic MPD thrusters have demonstrated, at the laboratory level, the ability to process megawatts of electrical power while providing significantly higher thrust densities than electrostatic electric propulsion systems. The ability to generate higher thrust densities permits a reduction in the number of thrusters required to perform a given mission, and alleviates the system complexity associated with multiple thruster arrays. The specific impulse of an MPD thruster can be optimized to meet given mission requirements, from a few thousand seconds with heavier gas propellants up to 10,000 seconds with hydrogen propellant. In support of programs envisioned by the NASA Office of Exploration Systems, Glenn Research Center is developing and testing quasi-steady MW-class MPD thrusters as a prelude to steady state high power thruster tests. This paper provides an overview of the GRC high power pulsed thruster test facility, and presents preliminary performance data for a quasi-steady baseline MPD thruster geometry.

  3. Space Launch System Accelerated Booster Development Cycle

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Arockiam, Nicole; Whittecar, William; Edwards, Stephen

    2012-01-01

    With the retirement of the Space Shuttle, NASA is seeking to reinvigorate the national space program and recapture the public s interest in human space exploration by developing missions to the Moon, near-earth asteroids, Lagrange points, Mars, and beyond. The would-be successor to the Space Shuttle, NASA s Constellation Program, planned to take humans back to the Moon by 2020, but due to budgetary constraints was cancelled in 2010 in search of a more "affordable, sustainable, and realistic" concept2. Following a number of studies, the much anticipated Space Launch System (SLS) was unveiled in September of 2011. The SLS core architecture consists of a cryogenic first stage with five Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs), and a cryogenic second stage using a new J-2X engine3. The baseline configuration employs two 5-segment solid rocket boosters to achieve a 70 metric ton payload capability, but a new, more capable booster system will be required to attain the goal of 130 metric tons to orbit. To this end, NASA s Marshall Space Flight Center recently released a NASA Research Announcement (NRA) entitled "Space Launch System (SLS) Advanced Booster Engineering Demonstration and/or Risk Reduction." The increased emphasis on affordability is evident in the language used in the NRA, which is focused on risk reduction "leading to an affordable Advanced Booster that meets the evolved capabilities of SLS" and "enabling competition" to "enhance SLS affordability. The purpose of the work presented in this paper is to perform an independent assessment of the elements that make up an affordable and realistic path forward for the SLS booster system, utilizing advanced design methods and technology evaluation techniques. The goal is to identify elements that will enable a more sustainable development program by exploring the trade space of heavy lift booster systems and focusing on affordability, operability, and reliability at the system and subsystem levels5. For this study

  4. MPD thruster erosion research

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    King, David Q.; Callas, John L.

    1988-11-01

    The multimegawatt MPD (Magnetoplasma Dynamic) thruster is an electric engine capable of orbital transfer and maneuvering of large payloads driven by a megawatt class space power supply. The MPD thruster is capable of specific impulses from 1,500 to 8,000 s. The high specific impulse means this system can perform missions using much less propellant than chemical systems. A five MW MPD electric system, propellant and payload from one shuttle launch must be replaced by the equivalent of four fully loaded Centaur G' stages. Thus, the savings in propellant and launch costs are very substantial. This report discusses 3 aspects of MPD thruster Physics: (1) A significant operational problem which has limited the useful operation of the device is discussed. This is severe erosion of the insulator at the cathode insulator junction. A technique which appears to solve the problem has been tested, and is described. (2) A preliminary analyses of anode sheath is presented. (3) Analysis of the discharges two dimensional nature is explored for the case where transverse gradients are considered but transverse velocity is assumed to be zero. This situation applies to high aspect ratio devices. The analyses concludes with a formalism that provides a means to qualitatively evaluate Ohmic dissipation from simple measurements of magnetic Hall effect on magnetosonic choking (where thermodynamics is ignored).

  5. A particle accelerator employing transient space charge potentials

    DOEpatents

    Post, R.F.

    1988-02-25

    The invention provides an accelerator for ions and charged particles. The plasma is generated and confined in a magnetic mirror field. The electrons of the plasma are heated to high temperatures. A series of local coils are placed along the axis of the magnetic mirror field. As an ion or particle beam is directed along the axis in sequence the coils are rapidly pulsed creating a space charge to accelerate and focus the beam of ions or charged particles. 3 figs.

  6. Synergia: an accelerator modeling tool with 3-D space charge

    SciTech Connect

    Amundson, James F.; Spentzouris, P.; Qiang, J.; Ryne, R.; /LBL, Berkeley

    2004-07-01

    High precision modeling of space-charge effects, together with accurate treatment of single-particle dynamics, is essential for designing future accelerators as well as optimizing the performance of existing machines. We describe Synergia, a high-fidelity parallel beam dynamics simulation package with fully three dimensional space-charge capabilities and a higher order optics implementation. We describe the computational techniques, the advanced human interface, and the parallel performance obtained using large numbers of macroparticles. We also perform code benchmarks comparing to semi-analytic results and other codes. Finally, we present initial results on particle tune spread, beam halo creation, and emittance growth in the Fermilab booster accelerator.

  7. Magnetized plasma flows and magnetoplasmadynamic thrusters

    SciTech Connect

    Andreussi, T.; Pegoraro, F.

    2010-06-15

    An axisymmetric magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) model of the acceleration channel of an applied-field magnetoplasmadynamic thruster is presented. A set of general relationships between the flow features and the thruster performance is obtained. The boundary conditions and the flow regime, which depends on the Alfven Mach number, are shown to provide the ideal limits of steady state thruster operation. In the present analysis, a Hamiltonian formulation of the MHD plasma flow model is adopted. This formulation makes it possible to cast the model equations in a variational form, which is then solved by using a finite element numerical algorithm.

  8. Magnetized plasma flows and magnetoplasmadynamic thrusters

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Andreussi, T.; Pegoraro, F.

    2010-06-01

    An axisymmetric magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) model of the acceleration channel of an applied-field magnetoplasmadynamic thruster is presented. A set of general relationships between the flow features and the thruster performance is obtained. The boundary conditions and the flow regime, which depends on the Alfvén Mach number, are shown to provide the ideal limits of steady state thruster operation. In the present analysis, a Hamiltonian formulation of the MHD plasma flow model is adopted. This formulation makes it possible to cast the model equations in a variational form, which is then solved by using a finite element numerical algorithm.

  9. Duration test of an annular colloid thruster.

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Perel, J.; Mahoney, J. F.; Daley, H. L.

    1972-01-01

    An annular colloid thruster was continuously operated for 1023 hours. Performance was stable with no sparking and negligible drain currents observed. An average thrust of 25.1 micropounds and an average specific impulse of 1160 seconds were obtained at an accelerating voltage of 15 k he thruster exhaust beam was continuously neutralized using electrons and electrostatic vectoring was demonstrated periodically. The only clear trend with time was an increase in specific impulse during the last third of the test period. From these results the thruster lifetime was estimated to be over an order of magnitude greater than the test duration.

  10. Stationary plasma thruster evaluation in Russia

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Brophy, John R.

    1992-01-01

    A team of electric propulsion specialists from U.S. government laboratories experimentally evaluated the performance of a 1.35-kW Stationary Plasma Thruster (SPT) at the Scientific Research Institute of Thermal Processes in Moscow and at 'Fakel' Enterprise in Kaliningrad, Russia. The evaluation was performed using a combination of U.S. and Russian instrumentation and indicated that the actual performance of the thruster appears to be close to the claimed performance. The claimed performance was a specific impulse of 16,000 m/s, an overall efficiency of 50 percent, and an input power of 1.35 kW, and is superior to the performance of western electric thrusters at this specific impulse. The unique performance capabilities of the stationary plasma thruster, along with claims that more than fifty of the 660-W thrusters have been flown in space on Russian spacecraft, attracted the interest of western spacecraft propulsion specialists. A two-phase program was initiated to evaluate the stationary plasma thruster performance and technology. The first phase of this program, to experimentally evaluate the performance of the thruster with U.S. instrumentation in Russia, is described in this report. The second phase objective is to determine the suitability of the stationary plasma thruster technology for use on western spacecraft. This will be accomplished by bringing stationary plasma thrusters to the U.S. for quantification of thruster erosion rates, measurements of the performance variation as a function of long-duration operation, quantification of the exhaust beam divergence angle, and determination of the non-propellant efflux from the thruster. These issues require quantification in order to maximize the probability for user application of the SPT technology and significantly increase the propulsion capabilities of U.S. spacecraft.

  11. Recent work on an RF ion thruster

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Lee, R. Q.; Nakanishi, S.

    1981-01-01

    An experimental investigation of an rf ion thruster using an immersed coupler in an argon discharge is reported. The conical coil, used to couple rf power into the discharge, is placed inside the discharge vessel. The discharge was self-sustained by 100-150 MHz rf power at low environmental pressures. The ion extraction was accomplished by conventional accelerated grid optics from an unoptimized 8 cm diameter ion thruster.

  12. Space acceleration measurement system triaxial sensor head error budget

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Thomas, John E.; Peters, Rex B.; Finley, Brian D.

    1992-01-01

    The objective of the Space Acceleration Measurement System (SAMS) is to measure and record the microgravity environment for a given experiment aboard the Space Shuttle. To accomplish this, SAMS uses remote triaxial sensor heads (TSH) that can be mounted directly on or near an experiment. The errors of the TSH are reduced by calibrating it before and after each flight. The associated error budget for the calibration procedure is discussed here.

  13. Scale Model Thruster Acoustic Measurement Results

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Vargas, Magda; Kenny, R. Jeremy

    2013-01-01

    The Space Launch System (SLS) Scale Model Acoustic Test (SMAT) is a 5% scale representation of the SLS vehicle, mobile launcher, tower, and launch pad trench. The SLS launch propulsion system will be comprised of the Rocket Assisted Take-Off (RATO) motors representing the solid boosters and 4 Gas Hydrogen (GH2) thrusters representing the core engines. The GH2 thrusters were tested in a horizontal configuration in order to characterize their performance. In Phase 1, a single thruster was fired to determine the engine performance parameters necessary for scaling a single engine. A cluster configuration, consisting of the 4 thrusters, was tested in Phase 2 to integrate the system and determine their combined performance. Acoustic and overpressure data was collected during both test phases in order to characterize the system's acoustic performance. The results from the single thruster and 4- thuster system are discussed and compared.

  14. Space experiments with particle accelerators (SEPAC): Description of instrumentation

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Taylor, W. W. L.; Roberts, W. T.; Reasoner, D. L.; Chappell, C. R.; Baker, B. B.; Burch, J. L.; Gibson, W. C.; Black, R. K.; Tomlinson, W. M.; Bounds, J. R.

    1987-01-01

    SEPAC (Space Experiments with Particle Accelerators) flew on Spacelab 1 (SL 1) in November and December 1983. SEPAC is a joint U.S.-Japan investigation of the interaction of electron, plasma, and neutral beams with the ionosphere, atmosphere and magnetosphere. It is scheduled to fly again on Atlas 1 in August 1990. On SL 1, SEPAC used an electron accelerator, a plasma accelerator, and neutral gas source as active elements and an array of diagnostics to investigate the interactions. For Atlas 1, the plasma accelerator will be replaced by a plasma contactor and charge collection devices to improve vehicle charging meutralization. This paper describes the SEPAC instrumentation in detail for the SL 1 and Atlas 1 flights and includes a bibliography of SEPAC papers.

  15. NEXT Thruster Component Verification Testing

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Pinero, Luis R.; Sovey, James S.

    2007-01-01

    Component testing is a critical part of thruster life validation activities under NASA s Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) project testing. The high voltage propellant isolators were selected for design verification testing. Even though they are based on a heritage design, design changes were made because the isolators will be operated under different environmental conditions including temperature, voltage, and pressure. The life test of two NEXT isolators was therefore initiated and has accumulated more than 10,000 hr of operation. Measurements to date indicate only a negligibly small increase in leakage current. The cathode heaters were also selected for verification testing. The technology to fabricate these heaters, developed for the International Space Station plasma contactor hollow cathode assembly, was transferred to Aerojet for the fabrication of the NEXT prototype model ion thrusters. Testing the contractor-fabricated heaters is necessary to validate fabrication processes for high reliability heaters. This paper documents the status of the propellant isolator and cathode heater tests.

  16. Pulsed Plasma Thruster Technology

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1996-01-01

    The continuing emphasis on reducing costs and downsizing spacecraft is forcing increased emphasis on reducing the subsystem mass and integration costs. For many commercial, scientific, and Department of Defense space missions, onboard propulsion is either the predominant spacecraft mass or it limits the spacecraft lifetime. Electromagnetic-pulsed-plasma thrusters (PPT's) offer the combined benefits of extremely low average electric power requirements (1 to 150 W), high specific impulse (approx. 1000 sec), and system simplicity derived from the use of an inert solid propellant. Potential applications range from orbit insertion and maintenance of small satellites to attitude control for large geostationary communications satellites.

  17. Electrodeless Experimental Thruster

    SciTech Connect

    Brainerd, Jerome J.; Reisz, Al

    2009-03-16

    An electrodeless experimental electric thruster has been built and tested at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC). The plasma is formed by Electron-Cyclotron Resonance (ECR) absorption of RF waves (microwaves). The RF source operates in the 1 to 2 kW range. The plasma is overdense and is confined radially by an applied axial dc magnetic field. The field is shaped by a strong magnetic mirror on the upstream end and a magnetic nozzle on the downstream end. Argon is used as the propellant. The velocity profile in the exhaust plume has been measured with Laser Induced Fluorescence (LIF). An unusual bimodal velocity profile has been measured.

  18. Plasma propulsion for space applications

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Fruchtman, Amnon

    2000-04-01

    The various mechanisms for plasma acceleration employed in electric propulsion of space vehicles will be described. Special attention will be given to the Hall thruster. Electric propulsion utilizes electric and magnetic fields to accelerate a propellant to a much higher velocity than chemical propulsion does, and, as a result, the required propellant mass is reduced. Because of limitations on electric power density, electric thrusters will be low thrust engines compared with chemical rockets. The large jet velocity and small thrust of electric thrusters make them most suitable for space applications such as station keeping of GEO communication satellites, low orbit drag compensation, orbit raising and interplanetary missions. The acceleration in the thruster is either thermal, electrostatic or electromagnetic. The arcjet is an electrothermal device in which the propellant is heated by an electric arc and accelerated while passing through a supersonic nozzle to a relatively low velocity. In the Pulsed Plasma Thruster a solid propellant is accelerated by a magnetic field pressure in a way that is similar in principle to pulsed acceleration of plasmas in other, very different devices, such as the railgun or the plasma opening switch. Magnetoplasmadynamic thrusters also employ magnetic field pressure for the acceleration but with a reasonable efficiency at high power only. In an ion thruster ions are extracted from a plasma through a double grid structure. Ion thrusters provide a high jet velocity but the thrust density is low due to space-charge limitations. The Hall thruster, which in recent years has enjoyed impressive progress, employs a quasi-neutral plasma, and therefore is not subject to a space-charge limit on the current. An applied radial magnetic field impedes the mobility of the electrons so that the applied potential drops across a large region inside the plasma. Methods for separately controlling the profiles of the electric and the magnetic fields will

  19. Cathode-less gridded ion thrusters for small satellites

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Aanesland, Ane; Rafalskyi, Dmytro

    2015-09-01

    We present here a new gridded ion thruster, called Neptune, that operates with only one Radio Frequency (RF) power source for ionization, ion acceleration and beam neutralization in addition to solid iodine as propellant. Thus significant simplifications, over excising gridded thrusters, might allow downscaling to satellites as small as 6 kg. The combined acceleration and neutralization is achieved by applying an RF voltage to the grid system via a blocking capacitor. As for similar RF capacitive systems, a self-bias is formed such that ions are continuously accelerated while electrons are emitted in brief instants within the RF sheath collapse. Moreover, the RF nature of the acceleration system leads to a higher space charge limited current extracted across the grids compared to classical DC operated systems. Measurements of the ion and electron energy distribution functions in the plasma plume show that in addition to the directed beam of ions, the electrons are also anisotropic resulting in a flowing plasma, rather than a beam of positive ions. Experimental characterization of this RF accelerated plume is detailed. This work received financial state aid managed by the ANR as part of the program ``Investissements d'avenir'' under the reference ANR-11-IDEX-0003-02 (Project MINIATURE).

  20. Kinetic Analysis of Pasma Transport in a Hall Effect Thruster

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Batishchev, O.; Martinez-Sanchez, M.

    2002-01-01

    Peculiarities of the plasma transport and oscillation phenomena in the Xe-gas discharge of the SPT and TAL Hall effect thruster were subject of many theoretical-numerical and experimental studies [1-4]. Despite this fact, the origin of a so-called anomalous transport is not understood to this date. As a result, in the theoretical and numerical models [5-6] researches assume ad-hoc cross-field diffusion coefficients, which may differ by several times from the classical Bohm result. To study the transport phenomenon we develop a specialized kinetic model. Our model is 2-dimensional in space (for axial and azimuthal directions), but 3-dimensional in velocity. A similar geometry was adopted in references [1,3]. However, we try to push the simulation to the realistic scale (several centimeters), while keeping the minimum spatial resolution on the order of the local Debye length. New transport results will be compared to the results from the 2D3V axisymmetrical model [6], which is a further development of the fully kinetic model for plasma and neutral gas [5]. The PIC [7] code is applied to the realistic SPT thruster geometry. We add new elementary plasma-chemistry reaction and modify boundary conditions to capture self-consistent dynamics of high ionization states of xenon atoms. It is hoped that the numerical results will provide a better understanding of the anomalous transport in a Hall effect thruster due to the collective modes, and shed light on the nature of the experimentally observed high-frequency oscillations. [1] M.Hirakawa and Y.Arakawa, Particle simulation of plasma phenomena in Hall thrusters, IEPC-95-164 technical paper, 1995. [2] V. I. Baranov et al, "New Conceptions of Oscillation Mechanisms in the Accelerator with Closed Drift of Electrons". IEPC-95-44, 24thInternational Electric Propulsion Conference, Moscow, 1995. [3] M.Hirakawa, Electron transport mechanism in a Hall thruster, IEPC-97-021 technical paper, 1997. [4] N.B.Meerzan, W.A.Hargus, M

  1. Performance of the NASA 30 cm Ion Thruster

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Patterson, Michael J.; Haag, Thomas W.; Hovan, Scot A.

    1993-01-01

    A 30 cm diameter xenon ion thruster is under development at NASA to provide an ion propulsion option for missions of national interest, and is being proposed for use on the USAF/TRW Space Surveillance, Tracking and Autonomous Repositioning (SSTAR) platform to validate ion propulsion. The thruster incorporates innovations in design, materials, and fabrication techniques compared to those employed in conventional ion thrusters. Specific development efforts include thruster design optimizations, component life testing and validation, vibration testing, and performance characterizations. Under this test program, the ion thruster will be brought to engineering model development status. This paper discusses the performance and power throttling test data for the NASA 30 cm diameter xenon ion thruster over an input power envelope of 0.7 to 4.9 kW, and corresponding thruster lifetime expectations.

  2. Inert gas thrusters

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Kaufman, H. R.

    1976-01-01

    Inert gases are of interest as possible alternatives to the usual electric thruster propellants of mercury and cesium. The multipole discharge chamber investigated was shown capable of low discharge chamber losses and flat ion beam profiles with a minimum of optimization. Minimum discharge losses were 200 to 250 eV/ion for xenon and 300 to 350 eV/ion for argon, while flatness parameters in the plane of the accelerator grid were 0.85 to 0.95. The design used employs low magnetic field strengths, which permits the use of sheet-metal parts. The corner problem of the discharge chamber was resolved with recessed corner anodes, which approximately equalized both the magnetic field above the anodes and the electron currents to these anodes. Argon hollow cathodes were investigated at currents up to about 5 amperes using internal thermionic emitters. Cathode chamber diameter optimized in the 1.0 to 2.5 cm range, while orifices diameter optimized in the 0.5 to 5 mm range. The use of a bias voltage for the internal emitter extended the operating range and facilitated starting. The masses of 15 and 30 cm flight type thrusters were estimated at about 4.2 and 10.8 kg.

  3. Insights on Physics of closed drift plasma thrusters by using externally driven and very fast current interruptions

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bouchoule, André

    2002-10-01

    Closed electron drift plasma thrusters, also known as Hall Thrusters or SPT (Stationary Plasma Thrusters) are magnetized discharges where the ion acceleration is provided in the plasma itself by the magnetic barrier restricting electron transport. After their developments and their demonstrations on satellites for orbit control these thrusters appear as very attractive ones in the space technology market. Simultaneously, significant research programs are developed in order to improve the knowledge on the complex physics involved in such devices and to improve simultaneously 2D or 3D simulation codes. Such a program involving academic research teams , agencies and industry is developed in France, in the frame of a coordinated program. GDR N° . The experimental research was achieved on diagnostic equipped thrusters, similar to industrial ones. These thrusters are operated in the national research facility PIVOINE , installed in Orléans. The discharge of Hall thrusters is well known as sensitive to fluctuations or oscillations in the few tens kHz range and the physical phenomena connected to these regimes have been widely investigated. Externally driven current interruptions, with very fast ON-OFF transitions (0.15 µs), have been shown as a convenient way for obtaining new data on thrusters physics, in connection with time resolved diagnostics like OES, LIF, electron Hall current probe and RFA. Experimental results evidence some details on excitation / ionization (single and multiply charged Xe ions) phenomena and lead to new inputs on electron transport phenomena in the magnetized discharge channel. New experimental insights on microinstabilities will be also be discussed in relation with simulations developed by using PIC codes.

  4. Direct longitudinal laser acceleration of electrons in free space

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Carbajo, Sergio; Nanni, Emilio A.; Wong, Liang Jie; Moriena, Gustavo; Keathley, Phillip D.; Laurent, Guillaume; Miller, R. J. Dwayne; Kärtner, Franz X.

    2016-02-01

    Compact laser-driven accelerators are pursued heavily worldwide because they make novel methods and tools invented at national laboratories widely accessible in science, health, security, and technology [V. Malka et al., Principles and applications of compact laser-plasma accelerators, Nat. Phys. 4, 447 (2008)]. Current leading laser-based accelerator technologies [S. P. D. Mangles et al., Monoenergetic beams of relativistic electrons from intense laser-plasma interactions, Nature (London) 431, 535 (2004); T. Toncian et al., Ultrafast laser-driven microlens to focus and energy-select mega-electron volt protons, Science 312, 410 (2006); S. Tokita et al. Single-shot ultrafast electron diffraction with a laser-accelerated sub-MeV electron pulse, Appl. Phys. Lett. 95, 111911 (2009)] rely on a medium to assist the light to particle energy transfer. The medium imposes material limitations or may introduce inhomogeneous fields [J. R. Dwyer et al., Femtosecond electron diffraction: "Making the molecular movie,", Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 364, 741 (2006)]. The advent of few cycle ultraintense radially polarized lasers [S. Carbajo et al., Efficient generation of ultraintense few-cycle radially polarized laser pulses, Opt. Lett. 39, 2487 (2014)] has ushered in a novel accelerator concept [L. J. Wong and F. X. Kärtner, Direct acceleration of an electron in infinite vacuum by a pulsed radially polarized laser beam, Opt. Express 18, 25035 (2010); F. Pierre-Louis et al. Direct-field electron acceleration with ultrafast radially polarized laser beams: Scaling laws and optimization, J. Phys. B 43, 025401 (2010); Y. I. Salamin, Electron acceleration from rest in vacuum by an axicon Gaussian laser beam, Phys. Rev. A 73, 043402 (2006); C. Varin and M. Piché, Relativistic attosecond electron pulses from a free-space laser-acceleration scheme, Phys. Rev. E 74, 045602 (2006); A. Sell and F. X. Kärtner, Attosecond electron bunches accelerated and compressed by radially polarized laser

  5. Second Magnetoplasmadynamic Thruster Workshop

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1992-01-01

    The meeting focused on progress made in establishing performance and lifetime expectations of magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) thrusters as functions of power, propellant, and design; models for the plasma flow and electrode components; viability and transportability of quasi-steady thruster testing; engineering requirements for high power, long life thrusters; and facilities and their requirements for performance and life testing.

  6. Electromagnetic thrusters for spacecraft prime propulsion

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Rudolph, L. K.; King, D. Q.

    1984-01-01

    The benefits of electromagnetic propulsion systems for the next generation of US spacecraft are discussed. Attention is given to magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) and arc jet thrusters, which form a subset of a larger group of electromagnetic propulsion systems including pulsed plasma thrusters, Hall accelerators, and electromagnetic launchers. Mission/system study results acquired over the last twenty years suggest that for future prime propulsion applications high-power self-field MPD thrusters and low-power arc jets have the greatest potential of all electromagnetic thruster systems. Some of the benefits they are expected to provide include major reductions in required launch mass compared to chemical propulsion systems (particularly in geostationary orbit transfer) and lower life-cycle costs (almost 50 percent less). Detailed schematic drawings are provided which describe some possible configurations for the various systems.

  7. High power ion thruster performance

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Rawlin, Vincent K.; Patterson, Michael J.

    1987-01-01

    The ion thruster is one of several forms of space electric propulsion being considered for use on future SP-100-based missions. One possible major mission ground rule is the use of a single Space Shuttle launch. Thus, the mass in orbit at the reactor activation altitude would be limited by the Shuttle mass constraints. When the spacecraft subsystem masses are subtracted from this available mass limit, a maximum propellant mass may be calculated. Knowing the characteristics of each type of electric thruster allows maximum values of total impulse, mission velocity increment, and thrusting time to be calculated. Because ion thrusters easily operate at high values of efficiency (60 to 70%) and specific impulse (3000 to 5000 sec), they can impart large values of total impulse to a spacecraft. They also can be operated with separate control of the propellant flow rate and exhaust velocity. This paper presents values of demonstrated and projected performance of high power ion thrusters used in an analysis of electric propulsion for an SP-100 based mission.

  8. Effect of Anode Dielectric Coating on Hall Thruster Operation

    SciTech Connect

    L. Dorf; Y. Raitses; N.J. Fisch; V. Semenov

    2003-10-20

    An interesting phenomenon observed in the near-anode region of a Hall thruster is that the anode fall changes from positive to negative upon removal of the dielectric coating, which is produced on the anode surface during the normal course of Hall thruster operation. The anode fall might affect the thruster lifetime and acceleration efficiency. The effect of the anode coating on the anode fall is studied experimentally using both biased and emissive probes. Measurements of discharge current oscillations indicate that thruster operation is more stable with the coated anode.

  9. Microgravity Acceleration Environment of the International Space Station (panel)

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    DeLombard, Richard; Hrovat, Kenneth; Kelly, Eric; McPherson, Kevin; Foster, William M.; Schafer, Craig P.

    2001-01-01

    This paper examines the microgravity environment provided to the early science experiments by the International Space Station vehicle which is under construction. The microgravity environment will be compared with predicted levels for this stage of assembly. Included are initial analyses of the environment and preliminary identification of some sources of accelerations. Features of the operations of the accelerometer instruments, the data processing system, and data dissemination to users are also described.

  10. Effect of a Second, Parallel Capacitor on the Performance of a Pulse Inductive Plasma Thruster

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Polzin, Kurt A.; Balla, Joseph V.

    2010-01-01

    Pulsed inductive plasma accelerators are electrodeless space propulsion devices where a capacitor is charged to an initial voltage and is then discharged through an inductive coil that couples energy into the propellant, ionizing and accelerating it to produce thrust. A model that employs a set of circuit equations (as illustrated in Fig. 1a) coupled to a one-dimensional momentum equation has been previously used by Lovberg and Dailey [1] and Polzin et al. [2-4] to model the plasma acceleration process in pulsed inductive thrusters. In this paper an extra capacitor, inductor, and resistor are added to the system in the manner illustrated in the schematic shown in Fig. 1b. If the second capacitor has a smaller value than the initially charged capacitor, it can serve to increase the current rise rate through the inductive coil. Increasing the current rise rate should serve to better ionize the propellant. The equation of motion is solved to find the effect of an increased current rise rate on the acceleration process. We examine the tradeoffs between enhancing the breakdown process (increasing current rise rate) and altering the plasma acceleration process. These results provide insight into the performance of modified circuits in an inductive thruster, revealing how this design permutation can affect an inductive thruster's performance.

  11. Ion Engine and Hall Thruster Development at the NASA Glenn Research Center

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Domonkos, Matthew T.; Patterson, Michael J.; Jankovsky, Robert S.

    2002-01-01

    NASA's Glenn Research Center has been selected to lead development of NASA's Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) system. The central feature of the NEXT system is an electric propulsion thruster (EPT) that inherits the knowledge gained through the NSTAR thruster that successfully propelled Deep Space 1 to asteroid Braille and comet Borrelly, while significantly increasing the thruster power level and making improvements in performance parameters associated with NSTAR. The EPT concept under development has a 40 cm beam diameter, twice the effective area of the Deep-Space 1 thruster, while maintaining a relatively-small volume. It incorporates mechanical features and operating conditions to maximize the design heritage established by the flight NSTAR 30 cm engine, while incorporating new technology where warranted to extend the power and throughput capability. The NASA Hall thruster program currently supports a number of tasks related to high power thruster development for a number of customers including the Energetics Program (formerly called the Space-based Program), the Space Solar Power Program, and the In-space Propulsion Program. In program year 2002, two tasks were central to the NASA Hall thruster program: 1.) the development of a laboratory Hall thruster capable of providing high thrust at high power; 2.) investigations into operation of Hall thrusters at high specific impulse. In addition to these two primary thruster development activities, there are a number of other on-going activities supported by the NASA Hall thruster program, These additional activities are related to issues such as thruster lifetime and spacecraft integration.

  12. Human Outer Solar System Exploration via Q-Thruster Technology

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Joosten, B. Kent; White, Harold G.

    2014-01-01

    Propulsion technology development efforts at the NASA Johnson Space Center continue to advance the understanding of the quantum vacuum plasma thruster (QThruster), a form of electric propulsion. Through the use of electric and magnetic fields, a Q-thruster pushes quantum particles (electrons/positrons) in one direction, while the Qthruster recoils to conserve momentum. This principle is similar to how a submarine uses its propeller to push water in one direction, while the submarine recoils to conserve momentum. Based on laboratory results, it appears that continuous specific thrust levels of 0.4 - 4.0 N/kWe are achievable with essentially no onboard propellant consumption. To evaluate the potential of this technology, a mission analysis tool was developed utilizing the Generalized Reduced Gradient non-linear parameter optimization engine contained in the Microsoft Excel® platform. This tool allowed very rapid assessments of "Q-Ship" minimum time transfers from earth to the outer planets and back utilizing parametric variations in thrust acceleration while enforcing constraints on planetary phase angles and minimum heliocentric distances. A conservative Q-Thruster specific thrust assumption (0.4 N/kWe) combined with "moderate" levels of space nuclear power (1 - 2 MWe) and vehicle specific mass (45 - 55 kg/kWe) results in continuous milli-g thrust acceleration, opening up realms of human spaceflight performance completely unattainable by any current systems or near-term proposed technologies. Minimum flight times to Mars are predicted to be as low as 75 days, but perhaps more importantly new "retro-phase" and "gravity-augmented" trajectory shaping techniques were revealed which overcome adverse planetary phasing and allow virtually unrestricted departure and return opportunities. Even more impressively, the Jovian and Saturnian systems would be opened up to human exploration with round-trip times of 21 and 32 months respectively including 6 to 12 months of

  13. Titanium Optics for Ion Thrusters

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Soulas, George C.; Haag, Thomas W.; Patterson, Michael J.; Rawlin, Vincent K.

    1999-01-01

    Ion thruster total impulse capability is limited, in part, by accelerator grid sputter erosion. A development effort was initiated to identify a material with a lower accelerator grid volumetric sputter erosion rate than molybdenum, but that could utilize the present NSTAR thruster grid design and fabrication techniques to keep development costs low, and perform as well as molybdenum optics. After comparing the sputter erosion rates of several atomic materials to that of molybdenum at accelerator voltages, titanium was found to offer a 45% reduction in volumetric erosion rates. To ensure that screen grid sputter erosion rates are not higher at discharge chamber potentials, titanium and molybdenum sputter erosion rates were measured at these potentials. Preliminary results showed only a slightly higher volumetric erosion rate for titanium, so that screen grid erosion is insignificant. A number of material, thermal, and mechanical properties were also examined to identify any fabrication, launch environment, and thruster operation issues. Several titanium grid sets were successfully fabricated. A titanium grid set was mounted onto an NSTAR 30 cm engineering model ion thruster and tested to determine optics performance. The titanium optics operated successfully over the entire NSTAR power range of 0.5 to 2.3 kW. Differences in impingement-limited perveances and electron backstreaming limits were found to be due to a larger cold gap for the titanium optics. Discharge losses for titanium grids were lower than those for molybdenum, likely due to a slightly larger titanium screen grid open area fraction. Radial distributions of beam current density with titanium optics were very similar to those with molybdenum optics at all power levels. Temporal electron backstreaming limit measurements showed that titanium optics achieved thermal equilibrium faster than molybdenum optics.

  14. The PEGASES gridded ion-ion thruster physics, performance and predictions

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Aanesland, Ane; Rafalskyi, Dmytro; Bredin, Jerome; Grondein, Pascaline; Oudini, Noureddine; Chabert, Pascal

    2013-09-01

    The PEGASES (Plasma propulsion with Electronegative gases) thruster is a gridded ion thruster that accelerates alternately positively and negatively charged ions to provide thrust. Over the last years various prototypes have been tested, adequate diagnostics have been developed and analytical models and simulations are made to better understand and control the physics involved. The plasma density in the region of the ion-ion plasma predicts that the performance of the PEGASES thruster can be comparable to existing thrusters on the market. We have recently provided the first experimental proof-of-concept, accelerating alternately positive and negative ions from an ion-ion plasma within a 10 kHz cycle. Here we present the state of the art in the PEGASES development and discuss the various physics involved and its possible future in space. This work is funded by EADS Astrium, ANR (Agence nationale de la recherche) under contract ANR-11-BS09-040 and FP7 under contract PIIF-GA-2012-326054.

  15. NASA's Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) Project Qualification Propellant Throughput Milestone: Performance, Erosion, and Thruster Service Life Prediction After 450 kg

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Herman, Daniel A.

    2010-01-01

    The NASA s Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) program is tasked with significantly improving and extending the capabilities of current state-of-the-art NSTAR thruster. The service life capability of the NEXT ion thruster is being assessed by thruster wear test and life-modeling of critical thruster components, such as the ion optics and cathodes. The NEXT Long-Duration Test (LDT) was initiated to validate and qualify the NEXT thruster propellant throughput capability. The NEXT thruster completed the primary goal of the LDT; namely to demonstrate the project qualification throughput of 450 kg by the end of calendar year 2009. The NEXT LDT has demonstrated 28,500 hr of operation and processed 466 kg of xenon throughput--more than double the throughput demonstrated by the NSTAR flight-spare. Thruster performance changes have been consistent with a priori predictions. Thruster erosion has been minimal and consistent with the thruster service life assessment, which predicts the first failure mode at greater than 750 kg throughput. The life-limiting failure mode for NEXT is predicted to be loss of structural integrity of the accelerator grid due to erosion by charge-exchange ions.

  16. Inert gas thrusters

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Kaufman, H. R.

    1978-01-01

    Inert gas thrusters have continued to be of interest for space propulsion applications. Xenon is of interest in that its physical characteristics are well suited to propulsion. High atomic weight and low tankage fraction were major factors in this choice. If a large amount of propellant was required, so that cryogenic storage was practical, argon is a more economical alternative. Argon was also the preferred propellant for ground applications of thruster technology, such as sputter etching and deposition. Additional magnetic field measurements are reported. These measurements should be of use in magnetic field design. The diffusion of electrons through the magnetic field above multipole anodes was studied in detail. The data were consistent with Bohm diffusion across a magnetic field. The theory based on Bohm diffusion was simple and easily used for diffusion calculations. Limited startup data were obtained for multipole discharge chambers. These data were obtained with refractory cathodes, but should be useful in predicting the upper limits for starting with hollow cathodes.

  17. Requirements for Simulating Space Radiation With Particle Accelerators

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Schimmerling, W.; Wilson, J. W.; Cucinotta, F.; Kim, M-H Y.

    2004-01-01

    Interplanetary space radiation consists of fully ionized nuclei of atomic elements with high energy for which only the few lowest energy ions can be stopped in shielding materials. The health risk from exposure to these ions and their secondary radiations generated in the materials of spacecraft and planetary surface enclosures is a major limiting factor in the management of space radiation risk. Accurate risk prediction depends on a knowledge of basic radiobiological mechanisms and how they are modified in the living tissues of a whole organism. To a large extent, this knowledge is not currently available. It is best developed at ground-based laboratories, using particle accelerator beams to simulate the components of space radiation. Different particles, in different energy regions, are required to study different biological effects, including beams of argon and iron nuclei in the energy range 600 to several thousand MeV/nucleon and carbon beams in the energy range of approximately 100 MeV/nucleon to approximately 1000 MeV/nucleon. Three facilities, one each in the United States, in Germany and in Japan, currently have the partial capability to satisfy these constraints. A facility has been proposed using the Brookhaven National Laboratory Booster Synchrotron in the United States; in conjunction with other on-site accelerators, it will be able to provide the full range of heavy ion beams and energies required. International cooperation in the use of these facilities is essential to the development of a safe international space program.

  18. A multiple-cathode, high-power, rectangular ion thruster discharge chamber of increasing thruster lifetime

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Rovey, Joshua Lucas

    Ion thrusters are high-efficiency, high-specific impulse space propulsion systems proposed for deep space missions requiring thruster operational lifetimes of 7--14 years. One of the primary ion thruster components is the discharge cathode assembly (DCA). The DCA initiates and sustains ion thruster operation. Contemporary ion thrusters utilize one molybdenum keeper DCA that lasts only ˜30,000 hours (˜3 years), so single-DCA ion thrusters are incapable of satisfying the mission requirements. The aim of this work is to develop an ion thruster that sequentially operates multiple DCAs to increase thruster lifetime. If a single-DCA ion thruster can operate 3 years, then perhaps a triple-DCA thruster can operate 9 years. Initially, a multiple-cathode discharge chamber (MCDC) is designed and fabricated. Performance curves and grid-plane current uniformity indicate operation similar to other thrusters. Specifically, the configuration that balances both performance and uniformity provides a production cost of 194 W/A at 89% propellant efficiency with a flatness parameter of 0.55. One of the primary MCDC concerns is the effect an operating DCA has on the two dormant cathodes. Multiple experiments are conducted to determine plasma properties throughout the MCDC and near the dormant cathodes, including using "dummy" cathodes outfitted with plasma diagnostics and internal plasma property mapping. Results are utilized in an erosion analysis that suggests dormant cathodes suffer a maximum pre-operation erosion rate of 5--15 mum/khr (active DCA maximum erosion is 70 mum/khr). Lifetime predictions indicate that triple-DCA MCDC lifetime is approximately 2.5 times longer than a single-DCA thruster. Also, utilization of new keeper materials, such as carbon graphite, may significantly decrease both active and dormant cathode erosion, leading to a further increase in thruster lifetime. Finally, a theory based on the near-DCA plasma potential structure and propellant flow rate effects

  19. Design and Preliminary Testing Plan of Electronegative Ion Thruster

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Schloeder, Natalie R.; Liu, Thomas M.; Walker, Mitchell L. R.; Polzin, Kurt A.; Dankanich, John W.; Aanesland, Ane

    2014-01-01

    Electronegative ion thrusters are a new iteration of existing gridded ion thruster technology differentiated by their ability to produce and accelerate both positive and negative ions. The primary motivations for electronegative ion thruster development include the elimination of lifetime-limiting cathodes from a thruster system and the ability to generate appreciable thrust through the acceleration of both positive or negative-charged ions. Proof-of-concept testing of the PEGASES (Plasma Propulsion with Electronegative GASES) thruster demonstrated the production of positively and negatively-charged ions (argon and sulfur hexafluoride, respectively) in an RF discharge and the subsequent acceleration of each charge species through the application of a time-varying electric field to a pair of metallic grids similar to those found in gridded ion thrusters. Leveraging the knowledge gained through experiments with the PEGASES I and II prototypes, the MINT (Marshall's Ion-ioN Thruster) is being developed to provide a platform for additional electronegative thruster proof-of-concept validation testing including direct thrust measurements. The design criteria used in designing the MINT are outlined and the planned tests that will be used to characterize the performance of the prototype are described.

  20. Scaling Laws of Lissajous Helicon Plasma Accelerator toward Electric Propulsion in Space

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Funaki, Ikkou; Matsuoka, T.; Nakamura, T.; Yokoi, K.; Nishida, H.; Shamrai, K. P.; Tanikawa, T.; Hada, T.; Shinohara, S.

    2010-11-01

    Scaling law of Lissajous Helicon Plasma Accelerator(LHPA) is derived and tested via PIC simulations with code VORPAL. In the LHPA, rotating transverse electric field in external longitudinal uniform magnetic field drives azimuthal current via ExB drift then thrust is produced due to Lorentz force. An 1D analytical model is developed which includes field penetration and ExB current estimation based on trajectory analysis. Scaling law of thrust as a function of parameters of RF drive frequency, applied RF voltage, plasma density, size of the thruster will be shown.

  1. Plume and Discharge Plasma Measurements of an NSTAR-type Ion Thruster

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Foster, John E; Soulas, George C.; Patterson, Michael J.

    2000-01-01

    The success of the NASA Deep Space I spacecraft has demonstrated that ion propulsion is a viable option for deep space science missions. More aggressive missions such as Comet Nuclear Sample Return and Europa lander will require higher power, higher propellant throughput and longer thruster lifetime than the NASA Solar Electric Propulsion Technology Application Readiness (NSTAR) engine. Presented here are thruster plume and discharge plasma measurements of an NSTAR-type thruster operated from 0.5 kW to 5 kW. From Faraday plume sweeps, beam divergence was determined. From Langmuir probe plume measurements on centerline, low energy ion production on axis due to charge-exchange and direct ionization was assessed. Additionally, plume plasma potential measurements made on axis were used to determine the upper energy limits at which ions created on centerline could be radially accelerated. Wall probes flush-mounted to the thruster discharge chamber anode were used to assess plasma conditions. Langmuir probe measurements at the wall indicated significant differences in the electron temperature in the cylindrical and conical sections of the discharge chamber.

  2. Electrodeless Plasma Thruster Design Characteristics and Performances

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Emsellem, G.

    2004-10-01

    The Elwing company has designed and modelled an electrode-less plasma thruster. This new concept has been designed to overcome fundamental limitations of existing solutions such as Hall Effect Thrusters and Gridded Ion Thrusters. In order to solve reliability and lifetime concerns as well as erosion and contamination problems known on these devices, Elwing's thruster has no component immersed in the discharge and does not require any neutralizer. Furthermore, as the function of ionization and acceleration are distinct, this new thruster concept is suitable for flexible operations as it can be fully throttled in both specific impulse and thrust while remaining at high efficiency above 50%. This design also introduces efficient non-mechanical thrust vectoring capability. Many features of the basic concept are discussed to show how this concept can be tailored to various operating conditions for power varying from 200W to 50kW. The thruster operations have been simulated and scaling laws established. The most significant performance achieved by this design is a thrust density in the range of 10N/m2 to more than 500 N/m2 which increases with available power. Obtained performances range from 5.9mN/4200s at 200W, an efficiency of 61%, up to 2.79N/3350s at 50kW with an efficiency of 91%.

  3. Investigation of the Effects of Facility Background Pressure on the Performance and Voltage-Current Characteristics of the High Voltage Hall Accelerator

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Kamhawi, Hani; Huang, Wensheng; Haag, Thomas; Spektor, Rostislav

    2014-01-01

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Science Mission Directorate In-Space Propulsion Technology office is sponsoring NASA Glenn Research Center to develop a 4 kW-class Hall thruster propulsion system for implementation in NASA science missions. A study was conducted to assess the impact of varying the facility background pressure on the High Voltage Hall Accelerator (HiVHAc) thruster performance and voltage-current characteristics. This present study evaluated the HiVHAc thruster performance in the lowest attainable background pressure condition at NASA GRC Vacuum Facility 5 to best simulate space-like conditions. Additional tests were performed at selected thruster operating conditions to investigate and elucidate the underlying physics that change during thruster operation at elevated facility background pressure. Tests were performed at background pressure conditions that are three and ten times higher than the lowest realized background pressure. Results indicated that the thruster discharge specific impulse and efficiency increased with elevated facility background pressure. The voltage-current profiles indicated a narrower stable operating region with increased background pressure. Experimental observations of the thruster operation indicated that increasing the facility background pressure shifted the ionization and acceleration zones upstream towards the thruster's anode. Future tests of the HiVHAc thruster are planned at background pressure conditions that are expected to be two to three times lower than what was achieved during this test campaign. These tests will not only assess the impact of reduced facility background pressure on thruster performance, voltage-current characteristics, and plume properties; but will also attempt to quantify the magnitude of the ionization and acceleration zones upstream shifting as a function of increased background pressure.

  4. Ram accelerator direct launch system for space cargo

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1987-01-01

    A new method of efficiently accelerating relatively large masses (up to several metric tons) to velocities of 0.6 km/sec up to 12 km/sec using chemical energy has been developed. The vehicle travels through a tube filled with a premixed gaseous fuel and oxidizer mixture. There is no propellant on-board the vehicle. The tube acts as the outer cowling of a ram jet and the energy release process travels with the vehicle. The ballistic efficiency remains high up to extremely high velocities and the acceleration can be maintained at a nearly constant level. Five modes of ram accelerator operation have been investigated; these modes differ primarily in the method of chemical heat release and the operational velocity range, and include two subsonic combustion modes (one of which involves thermally choke a combustion behind the vehicle) and three detonation drive modes. These modes of propulsion are capable of efficient acceleration in the range of 0.6-12 km/sec, although aerodynamic heating becomes severe above about 8 km/sec. Experiments carried out to date at the University of Washington up to 2 km/sec have established proof of principle of the ram accelerator concept and have shown close agreement between predicted and measured performance. A launch system capable of delivering two metric tons into low earth orbit was selected for the purposes of the present study. The preliminary analysis indicates that the overall dimensions of a restricted acceleration (less than approx. 1000 g) launch facility would require a tube 1 m in diameter, with an overall length of approximately 4 km. As in any direct launch scheme, a small on-board rocket is required to circularize the otherwise highly elliptical orbit which intersects the Earth. Various orbital insertion scenarios have been explored for the case of a 9 km/sec ram accelerator launch. These include direct insertion through a single circularization maneuver (i.e., on rocket burn), insertion involving two burns, and a

  5. Helicon Plasma Injection into an IEC Thruster

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Miley, George H.; Ulmen, Ben; Krishnamurthy, Akshata; Keutelian, Paul; Chen, George

    2012-10-01

    Helicon plasma injection into an Inertial Electrostatic Confinement (IEC) thruster stage is under experimental study. Helicons are RF plasma sources using helicon waves, or low frequency whistler waves. Such inductively coupled plasmas (ICPs) produce plasma of higher density than other field-free ICPs. Permanent magnet helicon sources have been proposed for plasma generation to provide a high downstream plasma density of about 1018 m-3 for argon [1]. The IEC stage then provides plasma acceleration. An IEC plasma is produced as a dc glow discharge, giving a ``star'' or a ``jet'' mode (current mode of interest) on chamber pressure. To decouple the chamber pressure and the IEC cathode grid accelerating voltage, the plasma generation and plasma acceleration stages are decoupled by helicon plasma injection. Normally a symmetric cathode grid produces the star mode at lower pressures while a slightly higher pressure gives the jet mode. In this experiment an asymmetric cathode grid is used in the IEC to produce a plasma jet at pressures as low as 1.0 mTorr. This mode can be used as an advanced electric propulsion system where thrust and specific impulse are decoupled, providing variable specific impulse that enables complicated orbital maneuvers and challenging space missions. [4pt] [1] F. F. Chen and H. Torreblanca, ``Large-area helicon plasma source with permanent magnets,'' Phys. Plasmas, 2007.

  6. Laser-heated rocket thruster

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Shoji, J. M.

    1977-01-01

    A space vehicle application using 5,000-kw input laser power was conceptually evaluated. A detailed design evaluation of a 10-kw experimental thruster including plasma size, chamber size, cooling, and performance analyses, was performed for 50 psia chamber pressure and using hydrogen as a propellant. The 10-kw hardware fabricated included a water cooled chamber, an uncooled copper chamber, an injector, igniters, and a thrust stand. A 10-kw optical train was designed.

  7. An Innovative Manufacturing of CCC Ion Thruster Grids by North Carolina A&T's RTM Carbon/Carbon Process

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Haag, Thomas W. (Technical Monitor); Shivakumar, Kunigal N.

    2003-01-01

    Electric ion thrusters are the preferred engines for deep space missions, because of very high specific impulse. The ion engine consists of screen and accelerator grids containing thousands of concentric very small holes. The xenon gas accelerates between the two grids, thus developing the impulse force. The dominant life-limiting mechanism in the state-of-the-art molybdenum thrusters is the xenon ion sputter erosion of the accelerator grid. Carbon/carbon composites (CCC) have shown to be have less than 1/7 the erosion rates than the molybdenum, thus for interplanetary missions CCC engines are inevitable. Early effort to develop CCC composite thrusters had a limited success because of limitations of the drilling technology and the damage caused by drilling. The proposed is an in-situ manufacturing of holes while the CCC is made. Special low CTE molds will be used along with the NC A&T s patented resin transfer molding (RTM) technology to manufacture the CCC grids. First, a manufacture process for 10-cm diameter thruster grids will be developed and verified. Quality of holes, density, CTE, tension, flexure, transverse fatigue and sputter yield properties will be measured. After establishing the acceptable quality and properties, the process will be scaled to manufacture 30-cm diameter grids. The properties of the two grid sizes are compared with each other.

  8. Los Alamos NEP research in advanced plasma thrusters

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Schoenberg, Kurt; Gerwin, Richard

    1991-01-01

    Research was initiated in advanced plasma thrusters that capitalizes on lab capabilities in plasma science and technology. The goal of the program was to examine the scaling issues of magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) thruster performance in support of NASA's MPD thruster development program. The objective was to address multi-megawatt, large scale, quasi-steady state MPD thruster performance. Results to date include a new quasi-steady state operating regime which was obtained at space exploration initiative relevant power levels, that enables direct coaxial gun-MPD comparisons of thruster physics and performance. The radiative losses are neglible. Operation with an applied axial magnetic field shows the same operational stability and exhaust plume uniformity benefits seen in MPD thrusters. Observed gun impedance is in close agreement with the magnetic Bernoulli model predictions. Spatial and temporal measurements of magnetic field, electric field, plasma density, electron temperature, and ion/neutral energy distribution are underway. Model applications to advanced mission logistics are also underway.

  9. Technology development and demonstration of a low thrust resistojet thruster

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Pfeifer, G. R.

    1972-01-01

    Three thrusters were fabricated to definitized thruster drawings using new rhenium vapor deposition technology. Two of the thrusters were operated using ammonia as propellant and one was operated using hydrogen propellant for performance determination. All demonstrated consistent operational specific impulse performance while demonstrating thermal performance better than the development units from which they evolved. Two of the thrusters were subjected to environmental structural testing including vibration, acceleration and shock loading to specifications. Both of the thrusters subjected to the environmental tests passed all required tests. The third, spare, thruster was introduced into the life test portion of the program. Two thrusters were then subjected to a life cycling test program under typical spacecraft operating power levels. During the life test sequence, the hydrogen thruster accrued 720 operating life test cycles, more than 370 on-off cycles and 365 hours of powered up time. The ammonia accrued approximately 380 on-off cycles and 392.2 on time hours of operation during the 720 cycling hour test. Both thrusters completed the scheduled operational life test in reasonably good condition, structurally integral and capable of indefinite further operation.

  10. High Power Hall Thrusters

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Jankovsky, Robert; Tverdokhlebov, Sergery; Manzella, David

    1999-01-01

    The development of Hall thrusters with powers ranging from tens of kilowatts to in excess of one hundred kilowatts is considered based on renewed interest in high power. high thrust electric propulsion applications. An approach to develop such thrusters based on previous experience is discussed. It is shown that the previous experimental data taken with thrusters of 10 kW input power and less can be used. Potential mass savings due to the design of high power Hall thrusters are discussed. Both xenon and alternate thruster propellant are considered, as are technological issues that will challenge the design of high power Hall thrusters. Finally, the implications of such a development effort with regard to ground testing and spacecraft intecrati'on issues are discussed.