NASA SBIR 01-1 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: A6.01-9767 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 012232 )
Ten Megawatt RF Plasma Thruster

A high power RF plasma thruster is proposed. A point design is presented capable of ten megawatts with only
a thirty centimeter diameter plasma diameter and less than five meters long. Subscale tests are planned to verify
plasma separation from field lines, necessary for thruster feasibility. Plasma density versus magnetic field,
RF power, and other parameters will also be compared with the model of operation, allowing extrapolation of plasma
parameters to the ten megawatt level. The RF plasma thruster offers very high thrust density, no grids or electrodes
to limit lifetime or create contamination problems, variable specific impulse, and a simple design with no close
tolerances which can be cheaply manufactured.

Electric thrusters are much more efficient in use of propellant than chemical thrusters. They are gradually entering
service. The newest proposed commercial geosynchronous communications satellites use electric, with a
propellant savings of perhaps a factor of ten. It will be some time before there will be a commercial application for a
ten megawatt thruster, but we expect it will eventually happen. In the meantime, the RF plasma thruster can be
used in lower power thrusters, where it may have advantages in terms of cost, compactness, long life, and lack of

NAME AND ADDRESS OF PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR (Name, Organization Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip)
Lynn Olson
New England Space Works, Inc.
24 Swift Road
Framingham , MA   01702 - 5750

NAME AND ADDRESS OF OFFEROR (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip)
New England Space Works, Inc.
24 Swift Road
Framingham , MA   01702 - 5750

Form Printed on 06-19-01 15:44