Busek Co. Inc. proposes to develop a high total impulse electric upper stage for small launch vehicles. The stage will be propelled by Busek’s 600 W Hall thruster. With xenon, which is the baseline propellant, the nominal specific impulse is 1500 s. The thruster may also be fueled by low cost krypton or high density iodine. Power will be provided by solar arrays. Total impulse will be sufficient to move a payload from low Earth orbit (LEO) to low Lunar orbit (LLO).
In Phase I, Busek will work with NASA and launch vehicle suppliers to design the upper stage. Phase I will include a Preliminary Design Review (PDR) level design for a flight-like system and a near-Completion Design Review (CDR) level design for the prototype system. The phase 1 report will include a mapping of key performance parameters (mass, power, cost, etc.) from the prototype to the flight design, along with potential opportunities for technology demonstration and commercialization.
In Phase II, the design of the stage will be completed, and key elements of the prototype propulsion system will be fabricated and tested. The thruster will undergo delta-qualification testing as required. At the end of Phase II, Busek will deliver key elements of an integrated prototype propulsion system that could be ground or flight tested as part of a post-Phase II effort. These will include, at minimum, a thruster and discharge power converter.
The target NASA application is a high delta-V upper stage for commercial launch vehicles. NASA is interested in the development of a low cost cis-lunar transfer stage to guide and propel small spacecraft on Trans Lunar Injection (TLI) trajectories that will enable the spacecraft to enter lunar locations or orbits. NASA can also use the propulsion system for Earth orbiting or interplanetary spacecraft of all sizes. Exploration, earth science, planetary science, astrophysics and heliophysics science all benefit from electric propulsion (EP).
The upper stage can also be used for DoD and commercial launches, including LEO to GEO transfers for small spacecraft. General applications for HETs include orbit raising and lowering, drag compensation, changing orbit inclination and phase, orbit maintenance (including North-South station-keeping, East-West station-keeping in GEO, and a deorbiting a spacecraft at end-of-life.