USA flag logo/image

An Official Website of the United States Government

Throttleable Vacuum Arc Thruster for Precision Positioning

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: Throttleable Vacuum Arc Thruster for Precision Positioning
Agency: NASA
Contract: NAS3-02047
Award Amount: $69,999.00


Alameda Applied Sciences Corporation proposes to develop a new type of electric propulsion device dubbed the Throttleable Vacuum Arc Thruster (TVAT). This thruster is itself a variant on an earlier thruster (the Vacuum Arc micro-Thruster (VA?-T)) that has been demonstrated via a recently concluded Phase I SBIR contract from BMDO (NASA/GRC contract NAS300129). The VA?T was verified to be a low mass (100g) high efficiency (13% measured), high Isp (1000-3000s) electric propulsion device. By combining the simple technology of an inductive energy storage circuit PPU with powerful electronics control, we will develop a thruster that can be remotely adjusted to deliver individual impulse bits from 0.25?Ns to 50?Ns with repetition rates varying from 1?1000 Hz while all the time providing an Isp of >1000s. The throttleable VAT proposed here is a pulsed device and hence can provide a wide range of impulse bits and a variety of repetition rates, which could satisfy coarse and ultra-fine control demands integrated in the same simple system. This thruster will be well suited to provide precision control for spacecraft constellations including optical interferometry, while offering low mass (<300g including the PPU), simplicity (no moving parts), high efficiency (?15%) and low cost of manufacturing.

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