The performance of a coaxial, gas-fed, self-field, quasi-steady pulsed magnetoplasmadynamic thruster (MPDT) was measured using a swinging gate thrust stand equipped with a laser interferometer and an rf proximity transducer. Careful calibration of the thrust stand and other diagnostics ensured that the measurement errors, barring the effects of fluctuations in the discharge voltage, are well below 2%. The measurements were carried out for various mass flow rates, ranging between 0.5 and 6 g/s and for four propellant gases: argon, xenon, hydrogen, and deuterium. The data set can be interpreted to describe both the performance of steady-state high-power (multimegawatt) MPDTs and quasi-steady pulsed MPDTs that can operate at low spacecraft bus power. The results were curve fit and compiled into a performance database that is intended as a data source for system or mission analysis as well as for the validation of analytical and numerical models of the MPDT.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Aerospace Engineering
- Fuel Technology
- Mechanical Engineering
- Space and Planetary Science