Ablative Z-pinch Pulsed Plasma Thruster

T. E. Markusic, K. A. Polzin, J. Z. Levine, C. A. McLeavey, E. Y. Choueiri

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The Z-pinch configuration in gas-fed devices was adapted for an ablative Pulsed Plasma Thruster (PPT). The motivation stems from the promise of the Z-pinch configuration for increasing the thrustto- power ratio and mass utilization efficiency. A series of ablative Z-pinch PPTs were constructed and their performance measured using a swinging gate thrust stand and mass ablation measurements. Several iterations of the design lead to the selection of a thruster with an augmented "spike" inner electrode for more exhaustive testing. Peak performance parameters for this configuration were found to be: Isp = 574 s, ηt = 7.5%, and T/P = 28 μN/W. In order to determine whether the plamsa was pinching, photographs of the discharge were acquired using a modified thruster having transparent Plexiglas propellant and mesh sidewalls. A current sheet structure leading to a plasma pinch was observed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2000
Event36th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit 2000 - Huntsville, AL, United States
Duration: Jul 16 2000Jul 19 2000


Other36th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit 2000
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityHuntsville, AL

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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