Precise Thrust Actuation by a Micro RF Ion Engine

Award Information
Agency:
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch
n/a
Amount:
$99,993.00
Award Year:
2009
Program:
SBIR
Phase:
Phase I
Contract:
NNX09CD99P
Agency Tracking Number:
085131
Solicitation Year:
n/a
Solicitation Topic Code:
n/a
Solicitation Number:
n/a
Small Business Information
Busek Co., Inc.
11 Tech Circle, Natick, MA, 01760
Hubzone Owned:
N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
N
Woman Owned:
N
Duns:
185739591
Principal Investigator:
Kurt Hohman
Principal Investigator
(508) 655-5565
kurt@busek.com
Business Contact:
Judy Budny
Business Official
(508) 655-5565
judy@busek.com
Research Institution:
n/a
Abstract
Busek proposes to develop a radio-frequency discharge, gridded micro ion engine that produces ýýN level of thrust precisely adjustable over a wide dynamic thrust range. Rf discharge was chosen to eliminate the life-limiting internal cathode of a dc discharge ion engine. Thrust actuation on the order of 0.03ýýN resolution is proposed with a closed-loop control system. This controlling scheme can be achieved by varying only one parameter: the rf power with a feedback from the beam current. Uniquely, the rf ion engine can also produce enough thrust for coarse constellation corrections or reconfigurations. Argon will be the base-lined propellant to ease concerns of propellant condensing on optics or other cryogenic surfaces. This feature can be critical for close formation flying as micro-thrusters such as field emission electric propulsion (FEEP) and colloids could potentially coat neighboring spacecraft. The proposed rf ion engine, combined with Busek's space-qualified carbon nanotube field emission cathode (developed for the ST7 DRS mission) as a neutralizer, will create a new opportunity in precise thrust actuation. Further implementation of a simple propellant feed system and power electronics will create a compact, low power, high performance spacecraft propulsion system.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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