Electric Propulsion Lab
Description of Research:
Directed by Professor Emeritus R. L. Burton. Physics of several types of electric thrusters, which use less propellant than chemical thrusters, are being studied experimentally for space applications. Both DC and Pulsed Arcjet Electrothermal Thrusters are investigated at power levels of 50 to 1000 watts and thrust to levels of 0.01 to 0.10 newtons. Pulsed plasma thrusters, with specific impulses of 800 to 1500 seconds on Teflon propellant, are being studied at power levels of 10 - 100 watts. The basic physics of electrode erosion is being studied. High power pulsed electromagnetic thrusters using metallic gallium propellant are also being investigated.