This invention relates to a new plasma thruster for space applications. The key innovations of this thruster allow it to effectively ionize different propellants, including gases, liquids and solids, at different flow rates, and to operate with wallout losses. Due to these characteristics and the design simplicity, this thruster can be miniaturized to operate at low power levels, including, but not limited to a few watts input power, and regimes relevant to Cubesat applications. The new thruster uses plasma with magnetized electrons and non-magnetized ions and consists of at least two stages, ionization and acceleration, which are physically separated by the geometry, magnetic field topology and in the case of DC – FR power, by the localized RF power deposition in the ionization stage and not in the accelerating stage.
© 2014 Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. All rights reserved.