Radio Frequency Micro Ion Thruster for Precision Propulsion

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: NNC06CA24C
Agency Tracking Number: 042140
Amount: $599,976.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2006
Solicitation Year: 2004
Solicitation Topic Code: S3.01
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
11 Tech Circle, Natick, MA, 01760-2213
DUNS: 184629491
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Kurt Hohman
 Principal Investigator
 (508) 655-5565
Business Contact
 Judy Budny
Title: Business Official
Phone: (508) 655-5565
Research Institution
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. *

Agency Micro-sites

SBA logo
Department of Agriculture logo
Department of Commerce logo
Department of Defense logo
Department of Education logo
Department of Energy logo
Department of Health and Human Services logo
Department of Homeland Security logo
Department of Transportation logo
Environmental Protection Agency logo
National Aeronautics and Space Administration logo
National Science Foundation logo
US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government