Bimodal Bismuth Vapor Hall Thruster

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Air Force
Contract: FA8650-04-C-2473
Agency Tracking Number: O031-0057
Amount: $744,354.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2004
Solicitation Year: 2003
Solicitation Topic Code: OSD03-006
Solicitation Number: 2003.2
Small Business Information
11 Tech Circle, Natick, MA, 01760
DUNS: 184629491
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 James Szabo
 Research Scientist
 (508) 655-5565
Business Contact
 Judy Budny
Title: Contracts Administrator
Phone: (508) 655-5565
Research Institution
Busek 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. *

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