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MPD (Magnetoplasmadynamic) Thruster Advanced Pumping System Concepts.

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Final rept. Jun 85-Aug 86,

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Magnetoplasmadynamic MPD thrusters have a number of features that make them attractive for use in several intermediate term missions planned by the U.S. Air Force and Nasa. Theoretical studies and laboratory scale pulsed tests performed to date have established the basic characteristics of MPD thrusters and have provided a basis for optimism regarding their eventual performance. The high multimegawatt power sources for space use currently being developed in the Strategic Defense Initiative can be adapted for use with MPD thrusters. Given these conditions, a major requirement for MPD thruster development is the availability of a suitable prototype test facility since successful development of multimegawatt MPD thrusters will depend, to a great extent, on testing them under realistic steady characteristics, life cycle expectancy, electrode erosion rates, and other data essential to the design of working thrusters. The major technical obstacle for ground testing of MPD thrusters in a space simulation facility is the inability of state-of-the-art vacuum systems to provide the tremendous pumping speeds that are required for multimegawatt MPD thrusters. This is true for other types of electric propulsion devices as well. This report discusses the efforts of a first phase or an evaluation of steady state MPD thruster test facilities and addresses the conceptual design of vacuum pumping concepts for this application were evaluated and are reported herein.

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  • Electric and Ion Propulsion

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