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SBIR/STTR

High Power High Thrust Ion Thruster (HPHTion): 50 CM Ion Thruster for Near-Earth Applications, Phase I

Completed Technology Project

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High Power High Thrust Ion Thruster (HPHTion): 50 CM Ion Thruster for Near-Earth Applications, Phase I
Advances in high power, photovoltaic technology has enabled the possibility of reasonably sized, high specific power, high power, solar arrays. New thin film solar arrays have demonstrated specific powers of over 4000 W/kg (exceeding the current SOA of ~130 W/kg). At high specific powers, power levels ranging from 50 to several hundred kW are feasible for communication satellites. Coupled with gridded ion thruster technology, this power technology can be mission enabling for a wide range of missions ranging from ambitious near Earth NASA missions to those missions involving other customers as well such as DOD and commercial satellite interests. The appeal of the ion thrusters stems from their overall high efficiency, typically >70%. At present, the most advanced and mature gridded ion thruster technology is that embodied in the 7-kW NEXT ion thruster. The proposed Phase I effort seeks to design and fabricate a ion thruster discharge chamber with an equivalent beam area of a 50-cm-diameter cylindrical ion thruster with the capacity to fill the 7 to 25-kW void that currently exist for ion thrusters. The overall effort (Phases I and II) will advance the TRL level of the discharge chamber for the 50-cm thruster by understanding and optimizing the discharge chamber. More »

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