NASA STTR 2009 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 09-1 T3.01-9893
RESEARCH SUBTOPIC TITLE: Technologies for Space Power and Propulsion
PROPOSAL TITLE: Next-Generation Ion Thruster Design Tool to Support Future Space Missions

NAME: Tech-X Corporation NAME: Wright State University
STREET: 5621 Arapahoe Avenue, Suite A STREET: 3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy
CITY: Boulder CITY: Dayton
STATE/ZIP: CO  80303 - 1379 STATE/ZIP: OH  45435 - 0001
PHONE: (303) 448-0727 PHONE: (937) 775-2425

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Sudhakar Mahalingam

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 6
End: 6

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Computational tools that accurately predict the performance of electric propulsion devices are highly desirable by NASA and the broader electric propulsion community. Large investments in running the long duration test programs (> 20 kHrs) at NASA GRC can be reduced with computer models and allow more focus on exploring the NEXT ion thruster design for future space missions. The current state of electric propulsion modeling relies
heavily on empirical data – frequently taken directly from the device of interest – and relies on numerous computational "knobs". A self-consistent particle model that minimizes the number of free parameters used in thruster modeling, and allows accurate electric thruster
simulations is desired. We propose a kinetic model that simulates the dynamic electric fields inside the NEXT ion thruster discharge chamber plasma. This will be the first time that this has been done. In addition kinetic erosion models will be used for modeling the ionimpingement
effects on thruster components. We envision one seamless model of the plasma from emission within the hollow cathode to ejection to outer space in the exhaust plume. This model will help NASA GRC to predict the lifetime operation of the high power ion propulsion options for earth-orbital applications.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The off-the-shelf ion thruster discharge chamber computational tools should reduce the time spent by NASA employees developing these tools for electric propulsion systems such as the 40-cm diameter NEXT thruster. The easy-to-use and user-friendly graphical user interface plasma softwares from Tech-X are viable high performance modeling tools for NASA to
study the current and future electric thruster concepts which will help their planning for future space missions. Also these tools can be applied to modeling Hall thrusters such as the HiVHAC thruster, which is currently being developed at NASA GRC. The fully electromagnetic capabilities in these codes make them an ideal tool for modeling cathodeless RF ionization schemes as well.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Electric propulsion is important to other government agencies including the Air Force and the Navy. Air Force electric propulsion codes will benefit from additional/advanced plasmasurface interaction models available in our tools. The multi-billion dollar military and
commercial satellite industries design and develop electric thrusters similar to the one used at NASA for the purposes of satellite station keeping and orbit changing maneuvers in space. These industries would benefit from the user-friendly computational tools, which include
more realistic physics models, to study the ion thruster plasma. The innovations proposed in this work will also benefit the ion source and plasma processing industries.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.

Electromagnetic Thrusters
Electrostatic Thrusters

Form Generated on 09-18-09 10:14