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Performance and lifetime assessment of MPD arc thruster technologyA summary of performance and lifetime characteristics of pulsed and steady-state magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) thrusters is presented. The technical focus is on cargo vehicle propulsion for exploration-class missions to the Moon and Mars. Relatively high MPD thruster efficiencies of 0.43 and 0.69 have been reported at about 5000 s specific impulse using hydrogen and lithium, respectively. Efficiencies of 0.10 to 0.35 in the 1000 to 4500 s specific impulse range have been obtained with other propellants (e.g., Ar, NH3, N2). Thermal efficiency data in excess of 0.80 at MW power levels using pulsed thrusters indicate the potential of high MPD thruster performance. Extended tests of pulsed and steady-state MPD thrusters yield total impulses at least two to three orders of magnitude below that necessary for cargo vehicle propulsion. Performance tests and diagnostics for life-limiting mechanisms of megawatt-class thrusters will require high fidelity test stands which handle in excess of 10 kA and a vacuum facility whose operational pressure is less than 3 x 10 to the -4 torr.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Sovey, James S.
(NASA Lewis Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Mantenieks, Maris A.
(NASA Lewis Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
September 5, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1988
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion And Power
Report/Patent Number
NAS 1.15:101293
AIAA PAPER 88-3211
Accession Number
Funding Number(s)
PROJECT: RTOP 506-42-31
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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