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Design of a Microwave ElectroMagneto-Static (MEMS) Thruster for Nanosatellites

Award Information

Department of Defense
Air Force
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2002 / STTR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Research Support Instruments, Inc.
4325-B Forbes Blvd. Lanham, MD 20706-4854
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 1
Fiscal Year: 2002
Title: Design of a Microwave ElectroMagneto-Static (MEMS) Thruster for Nanosatellites
Agency / Branch: DOD / USAF
Contract: F49620-02-C-0080
Award Amount: $99,967.00


Research Support Instruments, Inc., with the aid of the Princeton University Photonics and Optoelectronic Materials (POEM) group and the Florida Space Institute (FSI), proposes the development of a revolutionary, high specific impulse, microchip-sizedthruster for nanosatellite propulsion. This project will combine recent advances in two areas: larger-sized Electron Cyclotron Resonance Heating (ECRH) ion sources developed for ion propulsion (Satori et. al 1996), and a microchip-sized microwave plasmagenerator (Siebert et. al., 1998). The result will be the Microwave ElectroMagneto-Static (MEMS) thruster, an ECRH-ionized electrostatic thruster with a specific impulse appropriate for a xenon-based ion thruster (~2000 seconds). In addition, the MEMSthruster technology will be immediately applicable as an extremely compact electron source for neutralization in other microthrusters such as the micro-ion, micro-Hall, and FEEP thrusters.FSI will develop new sub-micron models and scaling laws for microwave ionization, ECRH heating, and electrostatic acceleration. RSI will design and fabricate a laboratory model of the MEMS thruster/neutralizer at the POEM Micro-Fabrication Laboratories.An array of MEMS thrusters will provide high specific impulse thruster in microchip form. The development of the MEMS thruster will take advantage of an open, underdeveloped market - compact thruster neutralization - to provide immediate commercial application while development and validation of the actual thruster continues. The MEMSthruster represents a unique opportunity to satisfy the need for high specific impulse micro-machined thrusters onboard nanosatellites, as well as a commercially attractive need for compact neutralization in a variety of existing microthrusters.

Principal Investigator:

Daniel J. Sullivan
Principal Scientist

Business Contact:

Michael Corson
Vice President
Small Business Information at Submission:

Research Support Instruments
4325-B Forbes Blvd Lanham, MD 20706

EIN/Tax ID: 521700379
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Research Institution Information:
Florida Space Institute
Kennedy Space Center, FL 32899
Contact: John Brandenburg
Contact Phone: (321) 452-4842
RI Type: Nonprofit college or university