Development and research of the stationary plasma thruster with a hollow magnet anode

Aerospace propulsion engineering


Potapenko M. Y.

Experimental Design Bureau “Fakel”, 181, Moskovsky av, Kaliningrad, 236001, Russia



Today, small-sized Spacecrafts with mass up to 500 kg are applied to fulfill a wide range of special space tasks. Electric Propulsion Systems based on Stationary Plasma Thrusters (SPT) are mostly used aboard such small-sized Spacecrafts.
This paper is dedicated to the development of a perspective scheme and creation of a Hall Effect Thruster ensuring high thrust performances, and also to research of influence of constructive parameters and operating mode on thruster efficiency.
The most challenging design is SPT with a hollow anode, which experimental model SPT-1 has been developed by EDB Fakel and has been tested in Russia and USA. Development of the perspective high-efficiency Plasma Thruster of low power is based on the constructive scheme tested on SPT-1 by its mass-energy optimization.
Thruster operating efficiency is determined by operating efficiency of its magnet system, and also by organization efficiency of ionization and acceleration processes in its discharge chamber. This paper presents the results of development of a perspective constructive scheme and the results of optimization of the main elements of a magnet system and discharge chamber of the thruster with a hollow magnet anode of low power PlaS-40. As a result of optimization, the reliability of thruster operation and thrust performances level are increased by loss decrease in magnetic circuit and increase of gas distribution and ionization efficiency in discharge chamber.
As a result of PlaS-40 researches, it is determined that thruster operates stable in the range of power of 100 to 650 W at a discharge voltage of 100 to 500 V and at a discharge current of 1.00 to 2.25 A, and also during life test.
Thruster PlaS-40 allows to reach high level of performances, which are ensured with the thruster of a bigger dimension type as, for example, SPT-70. An application of the new PlaS type thrusters for the similar tasks solved by SPT allows to reduce mass and volume occupied by them aboard S/C by ~40%. Implementing several PlaS type thrusters aboard the S/C Electric Propulsion System, the overall benefit will significantly increase.
Based on the obtained results of the researches and the mass-energy optimization of the PlaS-40 design, it is supposed to further improve the PlaS type constructive scheme and to develop a bigger dimension type thruster model, such as PlaS-55 and PlaS-85 and to research theirs performances.


electric propulsion (EP), small-sized spacecraft, stationary plasma thruster with a hollow magnet anode


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