Large Radio Frequency Ion Engines


Loeb H. W.1, Popov G. A.1*, Obukhov V. A.1**, Feili D. 2, Collingwood C. 2***, Mogulkin A. .3**

1. Moscow Aviation Institute (National Research University), 4, Volokolamskoe shosse, Moscow, А-80, GSP-3, 125993, Russia
2. Justus-Liebig-Universität,
3. ,



A large RF-ion thruster “RFIT-45”, having an ionizer diameter of 48.6 cm and consuming 35 kW of power, is described. It is scheduled to generate a thrust of 760 mN at a specific impulse of 7000 s and a lifetime of more than 50,000 hours. The beam current will be 7.0 A, the positive high voltage 4.5 kV. A 1 MWe nuclear power plant could supply up to 30 clustered thrusters. At lifetime penalty, a thrust-enhanced single engine may generate 1.08 N at nearly 50 kW of power. To keep the lifetime specification, an enlargement of the rf-thruster (65 cm ionizer diameter and 70 kW or 80 cm and 105 kW) may reduce the number of clustered engines, too. The RFIT-45 engine has been designed in accordance with smaller RIT-devices. A set of technical drawings is available. The scheduled performance data were derived from scaling laws of the RIT-family.


radio frequency ion thrusters; thruster design; scaling laws; high power; high specific impulse; lunar cargo ferry; Mars excursion ship; nuclear power plant

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