Bimodal Bismuth Vapor Hall Thruster
Small Business Information
BUSEK CO., INC.
11 Tech Circle, Natick, MA, 01760
AbstractBusek is developing bismuth vapor Hall thruster systems for bimodal and high thrust missions. In Phase I, Busek designed and analyzed a bismuth thruster system. An extensive series of experiments led to a pressure regulated liquid bismuth feed system design. Bismuth will be stored as a compact solid on the spacecraft. Most significant feed system elements were tested. Numerical modeling showed the bismuth discharge to be highly efficient; bismuth thrusters will outperform similar xenon thrusters. Maximum thrust to power (T/P) and thrust to system mass (T/M) will both increase substantially. Bimodal capabilities benefit; high T/P is possible throughout the range 1000 sec < Isp < 3000 sec. The tenuous bismuth charge exchange plasma leads to less thruster erosion than observed in a xenon system; this means high total impulse (longer lifetime), and helps mitigate spacecraft interactions, which were scoped out by Aerospace Corporation under subcontract. In Phase II, Busek will design, and build a complete bismuth Hall thruster system. Performance and plume testing will lead to an optimized, deliverable prototype system. A cooled beam condenser will facilitate testing in modest facilities. Busek will also design a full-scale thruster to be built in a follow-on program.
* information listed above is at the time of submission.