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Ultra-Light High-Thrust Electric Propulsion with Magnetic Thrust Vectoring

Award Information

Department of Defense
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2012 / SBIR
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: 2012
Title: Ultra-Light High-Thrust Electric Propulsion with Magnetic Thrust Vectoring
Agency: DOD
Contract: FA9300-12-M-1006
Award Amount: $149,999.00


ABSTRACT: MSNW"s Electrodeless Lorentz Force (ELF) thruster will address the demanding combined requirements of light weight, high efficiency, and high thrust-to-power electric propulsion in a single device. As spacecraft power systems get lighter, traditional electric propulsion thruster, PPU, and gimbal masses become dominant. Moreover, the increase in available power enables efficient, rapid orbital transfers with sufficient T/P. The ELF thruster technology has demonstrated a wide range of specific impulse at high efficiency. The high plasma and power density of the ELF thruster, coupled with magnetic isolation of the plasma from thruster walls yields an ultra-compact and lightweight thruster package that is scalable to high powers. In addition to a lightweight thruster body, a new plasmoid Magnetic Thrust Vectoring (MTV) system will demonstrate +/- 30 degrees of low-weight, low-power gimbaling. The RMF-formed FRC thruster will be operated with a low-mass, high temperature pulsed inductive charging PPU (PCPPU) that eliminates DC-DC transformers and temperature sensitive components and operates up to 100 kW. Proposed is a program to design, test, and optimize a full-scale, 10 kg, 50-100 kW ELF-200 thruster operating at 1,400-3,500 seconds specific impulse with a low mass Pulse Charging PPU and Magnetic Thrust Vectoring system. BENEFIT: The ELF thruster is a highly-scalable, low specific mass (<0.5 kg/kW) and variable specific impulse (1,000-6,000 s) thruster technology. The ELF is also designed to operate between 25-100 kW in a single, integrated thruster system. Combined with a low mass pulsed inductive charging PPU and fully Magnetic Thrust Vectoring system, the ELF-200 becomes a formidable space propulsion system. These capabilities are highly valued by NASA, DOD, and their subcontractors in modern space propulsion systems for reducing spacecraft subsystem mass and increasing on-orbit capabilities as more advanced solar panel technology becomes available. This technology will be suitable to replace all current in-space electric propulsion systems greater than 10 kW. The ELF technology has application for satellite main propulsion and LEO-GEO transfer in earth orbit. Additionally, the high specific impulse operation of the ELF will have applications for large telecom and military satellite station-keeping as well as deep space NASA missions.

Principal Investigator:

David Kirtley
Propulsion Scientist
(425) 867-8900

Business Contact:

John Slough
Director of Research
(425) 867-8900
Small Business Information at Submission:

8551 154th Ave NE Redmond, WA -

EIN/Tax ID: 760830797
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No