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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

Divergent Field Annular Ion Engine

Completed Technology Project
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Project Description

Divergent Field Annular Ion Engine Project Image
The proposed work investigates an approach that would allow an annular ion engine geometry to achieve ion beam currents approaching the Child-Langmuir limit. In this respect, the annular engine, whose design inherently allows for significant increases in perveance by resolving the span-to-gap problem, can achieve the projected high current densities necessary for high thrust, high power applications. The case for high power gridded ion thrusters is compelling if not only for risk reduction in contrast to lower TRL Hall thruster variants such as the nested channel systems. This point cannot be over emphasized as there is now significant effort and resources applied to Hall engine development. Yet there still remains some uncertainty as to how high power variants or magnetically insulated variants will actually perform in space. Interpretation of high power Hall engine operation in ground test facilities is also not completely well understood. This is in contrast with gridded ion technology whose facility corrections are well understood. The current investment in high power gridded ion thruster technology is minimal. This effort seeks to address this gap in technology development and in the process continue the advancement of a credible risk reducing technology for high power mission applications. More »

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