USA flag logo/image

An Official Website of the United States Government

Clustered Vacuum Arc Thruster for Deep Space Missions

Award Information

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2002 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Alameda Applied Sciences Corporation
3077 Teagarden Street San Leandro, CA 94577-5720
View profile »
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 1
Fiscal Year: 2002
Title: Clustered Vacuum Arc Thruster for Deep Space Missions
Agency: NASA
Contract: NAS3-02064
Award Amount: $69,997.00


Alameda Applied Sciences Corporation proposes to develop a new Clustered Vacuum Arc Thruster (CVAT) as an electric propulsion micro-thruster for microspacecraft with mass kg of total propellant. If the feed mechanism involves moving parts, its reliability is an issue, especially with active control. An innovative solution to this problem is proposed: deploy an array of individual, static thrusters, each of which delivers 10g of total eroded propellant. An array of 100 such devices would then deliver a kg of propellant, with no moving parts. The innovation is the use of miniature solid-state switches in our inductive PPU driver that enable programmable switching of the drive power pulses from one thruster to another. By so doing, one effectively switches power out of a given cathode once it has completed its useful mission life. Such a Clustered Vacuum Arc Thruster array (CVAT) has no moving parts and yet delivers 1kg propellant loads for various nanosatellite missions.

Principal Investigator:

Jochen Schein
Senior Scientist

Business Contact:

Mahadevan Krishnan
Small Business Information at Submission:

Alameda Applied Sciences Corporation
2235 Polvorosa Avenue, Suite 230 San Leandro, CA 94577

EIN/Tax ID: 943201700
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No