High Power Helicon Plasma Propulsion

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: NNC05CB24C
Agency Tracking Number: 030068
Amount: $599,901.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: STTR
Awards Year: 2005
Solicitation Year: 2003
Solicitation Topic Code: T3.02
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
MSNW Inc
16436 SE 39th Place, Bellevue, WA, 98008-5858
DUNS: 044381445
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Timothy Ziemba
 Principal Investigator
 () -
 ziembat@covad.net
Business Contact
 John Slough
Title: Business Official
Phone: (425) 319-5024
Email: sloughj@comcast.net
Research Institution
 University of Washington
 Carol Zuiches
 3935 University Way Box 355754
Seattle, WA, 98015
 (206) 543-4043
 Domestic nonprofit research organization
Abstract
A new thruster has been conceived and tested that is based on a high power helicon (HPH) plasma wave. In this new method of propulsion, an antenna generates and propagates a helicon wave in a plasma providing a non-thermal, wave-based mechanism for the subsequent acceleration of the plasma ions to high Mach number. The propellant is ionized and accelerated by the wave fields far from the thruster wall that results in an electrode-less plasma propulsion system. The device is small, light-weight, and structurally simple. It can operate with essentially any propellant, with efficiencies comparable to Hall and Ion thrusters. Phase I results indicate that HPH based thruster will make an efficient propulsion system with an estimated thrust of about 1 N for 50 kWe at an Isp of 2000 s in Argon, with higher Isp in Helium and Hydrogen. Higher thrust and Isp levels are expected with further optimization of its operational characteristics. The RF power system is also low mass and highly efficient. Operation with variable duty cycle allows for power delivery from 5 to 50 kW.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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