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Direct Measurement of Electromagnetic Thrust of Electrodeless Helicon Plasma Thruster Using Magnetic Nozzle

Authors: Takahiro Nakamura, Kenji Takahashi, Hiroyuki Nishida, Shunjiro Shinohara, Takeshi Matsuoka, Ikkoh Funaki, Takao Tanikawa, Tohru Hada


In order to realize long-lived electric propulsion systems, we have been investigating an electrodeless plasma thruster. In our concept, a helicon plasma is accelerated by the magnetic nozzle for the thrusts production. In addition, the electromagnetic thrust can be enhanced by the additional radio-frequency rotating electric field (REF) power in the magnetic nozzle. In this study, a direct measurement of the electromagnetic thrust and a probe measurement have been conducted using a laboratory model of the thruster under the condition without the REF power input. Fromthrust measurement, it is shown that the thruster produces a sub-milli-newton order electromagnetic thrust force without the additional REF power. The thrust force and the density jump are observed due to the discharge mode transition from the inductive coupled plasma to the helicon wave excited plasma. The thermal thrust is theoretically estimated, and the total thrust force, which is a sum of the electromagnetic and the thermal thrust force and specific impulse are calculated to be up to 650 μN (plasma production power of 400 W, Ar gas mass flow rate of 1.0 mg/s) and 210 s (plasma production power of 400 W, Ar gas mass flow rate of 0.2 mg/s), respectively.

Keywords: Electric propulsion, Helicon plasma, Lissajous acceleration, Thrust stand.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI):

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