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High Power Helicon Plasma Propulsion

Award Information

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2004 / STTR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
8551 154th Ave NE Redmond, WA -
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 1
Fiscal Year: 2004
Title: High Power Helicon Plasma Propulsion
Agency: NASA
Contract: NNC04CA99C
Award Amount: $99,968.00


The proposed work seeks to develop and optimize an electrode-less plasma propulsion system that is based on a high power helicon (HPH) that is being developed collaboratively between MSNW and the University of Washington. The helicon is well suited for this task, as it is known for efficient production of high-density plasmas. The proposed system takes helicon research into an entirely unexplored regime of high power, moving from the traditional kW level discharges to tens and hundreds of kW. Preliminary results indicate that it has excellent potential for making an efficient propulsion system with an estimated thrust of about 1 N for 50 kWe. Higher thrust levels are expected with optimization of its operational characteristics, particularly the addition of a magnetic nozzle that will facilitate conversion of thermal energy into directed flow. Numerical modeling will be employed to understand the relevant physics, and help determine the optimal thruster configuration. Scaling studies will determine the power levels where HPH is competitive or surpasses other systems under consideration for NASA?s higher power missions. Based on results, a plan for the complete system design and test demonstration of the HPH to be realized in Phase II will be detailed.

Principal Investigator:

John Slough
Principal Investigator

Business Contact:

John Slough
Small Business Information at Submission:

MSNW, Inc.
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: Sinh Simmons
Contact Phone: (206) 685-7165
RI Type: Nonprofit college or university