Precise Thrust Actuation by a Micro RF Ion Engine

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: NNX10CA83C
Agency Tracking Number: 085131
Amount: $599,927.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2010
Solicitation Year: 2008
Solicitation Topic Code: S2.01
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
Busek Co., Inc.
11 Tech Circle, Natick, MA, 01760-1023
DUNS: 185739591
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Kurt Hohman
 Principal Investigator
 (508) 655-5565
 kurt@busek.com
Business Contact
 Judy Budny
Title: Business Official
Phone: (508) 508-5565
Email: judy@busek.com
Research Institution
N/A
Abstract
The NASA Science Mission Directorate has plans to launch high-performance advanced space telescopes for astrophysics missions that require precision formation flying for synthetic aperture telescopes. These formations dictate the capability for precise alignment, synchronized maneuvers and reconfigurations. In order to accomplish the stated tasks, precise and low-noise micro-thrusters are needed. Busek Co. Inc. is proposing to continue the development of a micro RF ion engine propulsion system. Propulsion system is emphasized here because we believe we have all the building blocks needed to complete the system. The RF ion engine will operate in a dual thrust mode or low thrust, nominally 5-30 microNewtons (micro-N) for very precise, long duration missions and have the option to operate at high thrust, nominally 100 micro-N, for short applications such as spacecraft tip-off. This combination of thrust ranges from the same thruster is a unique and mission enabling technology. Busek has a flight qualified carbon nanotube field emission (CNTFE) cathode that is a near perfect fit for neutralizing the ion beam. The CNTFE is propellant-less and very low power, order of 1 Watt. Busek proposes to utilize a slightly modified microvalve for precise microflows. DC and RF electronics and control complete the system.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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