Design of a Microwave ElectroMagneto-Static (MEMS) Thruster for Nanosatellites

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Air Force
Contract: F49620-02-C-0080
Agency Tracking Number: F023-0008
Amount: $99,967.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Awards Year: 2002
Solicitation Year: N/A
Solicitation Topic Code: N/A
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
Research Support Instruments
4325-B Forbes Blvd, Lanham, MD, 20706
DUNS: 076337877
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Daniel Sullivan
 Principal Scientist
 (609) 580-0080
Business Contact
 Michael Corson
Title: Vice President
Phone: (301) 306-0010
Research Institution
 Florida Space Institute
 John Brandenburg
Kennedy Space Center, FL, 32899
 (321) 452-4842
 Nonprofit college or university
Research Support Instruments, Inc., with the aid of the Princeton University Photonics and Optoelectronic Materials (POEM) group and the Florida Space Institute (FSI), proposes the development of a revolutionary, high specific impulse, microchip-sizedthruster for nanosatellite propulsion. This project will combine recent advances in two areas: larger-sized Electron Cyclotron Resonance Heating (ECRH) ion sources developed for ion propulsion (Satori et. al 1996), and a microchip-sized microwave plasmagenerator (Siebert et. al., 1998). The result will be the Microwave ElectroMagneto-Static (MEMS) thruster, an ECRH-ionized electrostatic thruster with a specific impulse appropriate for a xenon-based ion thruster (~2000 seconds). In addition, the MEMSthruster technology will be immediately applicable as an extremely compact electron source for neutralization in other microthrusters such as the micro-ion, micro-Hall, and FEEP thrusters.FSI will develop new sub-micron models and scaling laws for microwave ionization, ECRH heating, and electrostatic acceleration. RSI will design and fabricate a laboratory model of the MEMS thruster/neutralizer at the POEM Micro-Fabrication Laboratories.An array of MEMS thrusters will provide high specific impulse thruster in microchip form. The development of the MEMS thruster will take advantage of an open, underdeveloped market - compact thruster neutralization - to provide immediate commercial application while development and validation of the actual thruster continues. The MEMSthruster represents a unique opportunity to satisfy the need for high specific impulse micro-machined thrusters onboard nanosatellites, as well as a commercially attractive need for compact neutralization in a variety of existing microthrusters.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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