The objective of the research program is to design, optimize and develop a space plasma thruster based on helicon-radio-frequency technology and its application to a nano-satellite for attitude and position control. Moreover a detailed feasibility study will be also conducted to evaluate the possibility of using the plasma thruster to heat and decompose a secondary propellant. The feasibility study will asses the possibility of building up a combined-two-mode-thruster able to operate in the low-thrust high-efficiency plasma-mode and high-thrust low-efficiency secondary-propellant-plasma-enhanced mode. Only the plasma thruster will be developed and fully tested during this study. The main characteristics of the thruster are: Power 50 W Weight within 1.5 kg Thrust >1.5 mN Specific Impulse (Isp) >1200 s The program will develop thought the following steps: a) Deep numerical-theoretical investigation through dedicated plasma-simulation tools. b) Extensive experimental campaign to validate codes, to investigate the physics phenomena involved and to proof thruster performance. c) The development of a thruster-prototype to be mounted on board of a mini-satellite to demonstrate technology feasibility, d)The study of all the critical issues related to the application to a mini-satellite e) the design and manufacturing of the mini-satellite mock up including all critical components f) analysis of scaling law to lower and higher power. As a final results of the project, a detailed analysis will be conducted in order to evaluate the possible application of the thruster in space missions requiring low thrust accurate attitude and position control.
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Funding SchemeCP - Collaborative project (generic)
37041 Albaredo D Adige