Coaxial High Energy Thruster for Rapid Maneuvering of Space Assets
Agency / Branch:
DOD / USAF
Busek Co. Inc. and Stanford University propose to jointly develop and test a high power plasma propulsion concept called the Coaxial High EnerGy (CHENG) thruster. This high efficiency (> 85%) pulsed system will be capable of average thrust levels commensurate to chemical propulsion (10^4 N/m^2), but with an Isp comparable to electrostatic propulsion (4000-50,000 s). Both thrust and Isp will be variable. The concept was originally demonstrated in the early 1970s, but was never fully characterized. Subsequent developments in high speed pulsed gas valves and pulsed power technology implore revisiting the concept. In Phase I, we will demonstrate a 12 kW thruster at firing rate of 4 Hz, producing an average thrust density of 103 N/m^2. In the process, we will identify key requirements for validating the technology, develop our approach to Phase II, and identify dual-use and commercialization potential. In Phase II, 12 kW performance will be measured on a thrust stand. Then the thrust density will be extended to 10^4 N/m^2. This will entail building a 50 kW, 100 Hz thruster. Throughout both phases, numerical simulations will be used to study the physics of the discharge and its impact on thruster erosion rates, believed to be very low.
Small Business Information at Submission:
Research Institution Information:
BUSEK CO., INC.
11 Tech Circle Natick, MA 01760
Number of Employees:
320 Panama Street
Stanford, CA 94305
Nonprofit college or university