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High Power Helicon Plasma Propulsion

Award Information

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2005 / STTR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
8551 154th Ave NE Redmond, WA 98052-3557
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 2
Fiscal Year: 2005
Title: High Power Helicon Plasma Propulsion
Agency: NASA
Contract: NNC05CB24C
Award Amount: $599,901.00


A new thruster has been conceived and tested that is based on a high power helicon (HPH) plasma wave. In this new method of propulsion, an antenna generates and propagates a helicon wave in a plasma providing a non-thermal, wave-based mechanism for the subsequent acceleration of the plasma ions to high Mach number. The propellant is ionized and accelerated by the wave fields far from the thruster wall that results in an electrode-less plasma propulsion system. The device is small, light-weight, and structurally simple. It can operate with essentially any propellant, with efficiencies comparable to Hall and Ion thrusters. Phase I results indicate that HPH based thruster will make an efficient propulsion system with an estimated thrust of about 1 N for 50 kWe at an Isp of 2000 s in Argon, with higher Isp in Helium and Hydrogen. Higher thrust and Isp levels are expected with further optimization of its operational characteristics. The RF power system is also low mass and highly efficient. Operation with variable duty cycle allows for power delivery from 5 to 50 kW.

Principal Investigator:

Timothy Ziemba

Business Contact:

John Slough
Business Official
Small Business Information at Submission:

16436 SE 39th Place Bellevue, WA 98008

EIN/Tax ID: 520582238
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Research Institution Information:
University of Washington
3935 University Way Box 355754
Seattle, WA 98015
Contact: Carol Zuiches
Contact Phone: (206) 543-4043
RI Type: Nonprofit college or university