A Coaxial High Energy Thruster for Defensive Space Applications

Award Information
Department of Defense
Air Force
Award Year:
Phase II
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Busek Co. Inc.
11 Tech Circle, Natick, MA, 01760
Hubzone Owned:
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
James Szabo
Chief Scientist for Hall Thrusters
(508) 655-5565
Business Contact:
Judy Budny
Contracts Administrator
(508) 655-5565
Research Institution:
Stanford University
Catherine Boxwell
320 Panama Street
Stanford, CA, 94305
(650) 725-6864
Nonprofit college or university
Busek Co. Inc. and Stanford University propose to develop and test an advanced high power plasma propulsion concept referred to here as a Coaxial High EnerGy Thruster, or CHENG thruster.  The thruster is first and foremost a propulsive device.  However, because the device is pulsed, compact, and efficient the plasma beam is highly condensed and energetic. For this reason, the thruster may also be useful as a deterrent against space debris or other objects with potentially hostile intent. In Phase II, Busek and Stanford will jointly design and test a sub-scale, dual-use thruster. The nominal power level will be 1 kW. The thruster would be built and fully characterized.  By appropriately scaling the device, we expect that operation in a high Isp deflagration mode and a high thrust detonation mode will be possible.  Numerical modeling of the discharge and beam will be carried out by both Busek and Stanford.  MHD and PIC modeling will help optimize and understand the subscale design. These models will aid in understanding what controls the deflagration-detonation transition.  Modeling will also help develop methods to focus and defocus the beam.  This high degree of control is required to use the device to both propel and defend DoD space assets. BENEFIT: The Air Force and commercial satellite manufacturers need highly throttle-able, high efficiency, long lived thrusters for large (high power) military/communication satellites and future Orbit Transfer Vehicles (OTVs). The Air Force specifically called for a high efficiency (> 70%) propulsion system capable of thrust levels commensurate to chemical propulsion (1N to1kN), but with an Isp that is an order of magnitude better (at least > 3000 sec, preferably > 5000 sec). If the CHENG it works as well as analysis and experiments have shown it will meet and exceed these and IHPRPT dual mode requirements. The device also has prospective space-based weapons and missile defense applications, as discussed in this proposal.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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