Development of the Radio-Frequency Ion Thruster on Atmospheric Gases
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The paper presents the results of the first experiments on the implementation of the concept of electric propulsion thrusters that use atmospheric gases as propellant. Such thrusters can be used to create propulsion systems for small, low-orbit (180–240 km) spacecraft. For experimental studies, a radio-frequency ion thruster was selected, and a laboratory sample of the thruster with an output beam diameter of d = 150 mm was developed. Experiments were carried out in which dependences of the propellant mass flow on the power delivered to the thruster’s inductor were obtained (for each dependence, the ion beam current was maintained at the same level). Dependences were obtained when the laboratory sample of the radio-frequency ion thruster operated on xenon, nitrogen, and oxygen. Characteristics and estimations of some integral parameters of the thruster are given.
Keywordsradio-frequency ion thruster atmospheric gases experimental studies
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