Radio Frequency Micro Ion Thruster for Precision Propulsion

Award Information
Agency:
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Amount:
$599,976.00
Program:
SBIR
Contract:
NNC06CA24C
Solitcitation Year:
2004
Solicitation Number:
N/A
Branch:
N/A
Award Year:
2006
Phase:
Phase II
Agency Tracking Number:
042140
Solicitation Topic Code:
S3.01
Small Business Information
Busek Co., Inc.
11 Tech Circle, Natick, MA, 01760-2213
Hubzone Owned:
N
Woman Owned:
N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
N
Duns:
184629491
Principal Investigator
 Kurt Hohman
 Principal Investigator
 (508) 655-5565
 kurt@busek.com
Business Contact
 Judy Budny
Title: Business Official
Phone: (508) 655-5565
Email: judy@busek.com
Research Institution
N/A
Abstract
Busek proposes to continue development of an engineering model radio frequency discharge, gridded micro ion thruster that produces sub-mN to mN thrust precisely adjustable over a wide dynamic thrust range. Phase I testing proved the feasibility of the concept and estimated performance was exceptional. Measuring beam current and voltage, a thrust up to 1.6mN, thrust efficiencies up to 40% and propellant utilization up to 80% were estimated. Specific impulse ranged from 500-3000seconds. Beam power maximum was 38 watts and the rf power at this maximum was about 30watts total and approximately 20 watts rf deposited into the plasma. The rf discharge ionizer eliminated any need for an internal cathode. In Phase II, Busek will measure thrust directly, characterize the thruster over a wide range of operating conditions and predict lifetime. MIT will advance a numerical simulation of the rf thruster to be used for scaling and design purposes. For missions with cryogenic sensors, a thruster utilizing non-condensable propellant(s) will be evaluated. In addition, a beam neutralizer will be investigated. An rf cathode or carbon nanotube field emission cathode are the two most promising neutralizers.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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