A prototype RF plasma micro-thruster has been investigated numerically and experimentally. The experimental results were obtained on a thrust stand capable of micro-Newton resolution. Thrust and mass flow (hence specific impulse) were measured for an argon propellant at mass flows ranging from 0.4 to 5.5 mg/s. An increase over the cold gas thrust of up to 20% was observed for a discharge frequency of 100 MHz and an input power of 77 W. Propulsive efficiency was seen to increase both experimentally and numerically for increasing mass flow and decreasing discharge frequency.
Date of this Version
Olliges, J D.; Ketsdever, A D.; Stein, W B.; Alexeenko, Alina A.; and Hrbud, I, "Experimental and Computational Investigation of a RF Plasma Micro-Thruster" (2008). School of Aeronautics and Astronautics Faculty Publications. Paper 21.