NTRS - NASA Technical Reports Server

Back to Results
Electric Propulsion Applications and ImpactsMost space missions require on-board propulsion systems and these systems are often dominant spacecraft mass drivers. Presently, on-board systems account for more than half the injected mass for commercial communications systems and even greater mass fractions for ambitious planetary missions. Anticipated trends toward the use of both smaller spacecraft and launch vehicles will likely increase pressure on the performance of on-board propulsion systems. The acceptance of arcjet thrusters for operational use on commercial communications satellites ushered in a new era in on-board propulsion and exponential growth of electric propulsion across a broad spectrum of missions is anticipated. NASA recognizes the benefits of advanced propulsion and NASA's Office of Space Access and Technology supports an aggressive On-Board Propulsion program, including a strong electric propulsion element, to assure the availability of high performance propulsion systems to meet the goals of the ambitious missions envisioned in the next two decades. The program scope ranges from fundamental research for future generation systems through specific insertion efforts aimed at near term technology transfer. The On-Board propulsion program is committed to carrying technologies to levels required for customer acceptance and emphasizes direct interactions with the user community and the development of commercial sources. This paper provides a discussion of anticipated missions, propulsion functions, and electric propulsion impacts followed by an overview of the electric propulsion element of the NASA On-Board Propulsion program.
Document ID
Document Type
Technical Memorandum (TM)
Curran, Frank M. (NASA Lewis Research Center Cleveland,OH United States)
Wickenheiser, Timothy J. (NASA Lewis Research Center Cleveland,OH United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
June 1, 1996
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion and Power
Report/Patent Number
NAS 1.15:107246
Meeting Information
International Astronautical Congress(Oslo)
Funding Number(s)
PROJECT: RTOP 242-70-02
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

Available Downloads

NameType 19960036978.pdf STI