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Arcjet thruster research and technology. Phase 1: Executive summaryThe principal objective of this two phase program is to conduct the development research required to make the low power arcjet a flight ready technology. Many important results were obtained during Phase 1 to move closer to this objective. Fundamental analyses were performed of the arcjet nozzle, the gas kinetic reaction effects, the thermal environment, and the arc stabilizing vortex. These aided the conceptual understanding of the arcjet and guided design work. A hydrazine (N2H4) arcjet was designed that combined a flight qualified catalyst bed with a modular arcjet. Extensive testing was performed which demonstrated the feasibility of using this propellant in an arcjet for the first time. Startup techniques were developed, stability maintained, material compatibility tests conducted, and performance mapping tests performed. Specific impulse values from 400 to 730 seconds were produced with a non-optimized design. These levels are higher than were originally thought possible and proved that extremely high enthalpy values can be obtained with constricted arc technology. Erosion rate data are promising for lifetime extensions to meet flight application requirements. Power control unit (PCU) development was started with the design and fabrication of a laboratory high switching frequency supply. Valuable data were obtained on PCU operation and on the interaction with the dynamic arc. Phase 2 efforts presently underway are resolving key issues for multi-hundred hour lifetimes, are continuing to investigate arcjet/PCU interactions, and will demonstrate duty cycle N2H4 arcjet/PCU operation in a simulated flight mode for lifetimes consistent with initial applications.
Document ID
Document Type
Contractor Report (CR)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
August 10, 1987
Subject Category
Report/Patent Number
NAS 1.26:182106
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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