Thermal Model of the Thruster Cluster of the Electric Propulsion System

Aerospace propulsion engineering


Balashov V. V.1*, Mogulkin A. .2*, Khartov S. A.2**, Shlygin A. V.2

1. Research Institute of Applied Mechanics and Electrodynamics (RIAME),
2. Moscow Aviation Institute (National Research University), 4, Volokolamskoe shosse, Moscow, А-80, GSP-3, 125993, Russia



A thruster cluster (thruster module) consists of eight thruster units, each of which includes a 35 kW radio-frequency (RF) ion thruster with the cathode-neutralizer, RF generator, gas-distribution unit (GDU), and power processing unit (PPU).
The thruster module has a three-level concentric structure. The levels are interconnected by a frame system. PPU and flanges for mounting thrusters and cathode-neutralizers with discharge-initiation units are located at the first level. The GDUs for thrusters and neutralizers are located at the second level. The third level contains elements used to fix thruster module to the spacecraft structure.
Each thruster casing is divided into several sections with different radiative properties, allowing directing heat flows from the thruster module components.
Static thermal analysis was conducted by the finite-element method using the software package ANSYS. For constructing the finite-element model and making calculations, the software package Workbench was used. The computational model is based on the developed geometric model of thruster cluster and the required boundary conditions. While developing the finite-element models of the thruster and thruster module parts, there was used a mesh generator ICEM CFD integrated into the platform Workbench. The temperature distribution fields were defined by calculation for each element of the thruster cluster.


radio-frequency ion thruster, thruster module, thermal calculation, temperature distribution fie


  1. Loeb H.W., Mogulkin A.I., Obukhov V.A., Petukhov V.G., Popov G.A. Elektronnyi zhurnal «Trudy MAI», 2013, no. 70, available at: (accessed 25.XI.2013)
  2. Loeb H.W., Feili D., Popov G.A., Obukhov V.A., Balashov V.V., Mogulkin A.I., Murashko V.M., Nesterenko A.N., Khartov S.A. Elektronnyi zhurnal «Trudy MAI», 2013, no. 60, available at: (accessed 10XII.2012).
  3. Goebel D.M., Katz I. Fundamentals of Electric Propulsion: Ion and Hall Thrusters, New Jersey, Willey, 2008, 508 p.
  4. Ion Propulsion Systems. Radio frequency ion propulsion systems for orbit rising, station keeping and deep space missions,
  5. Loeb H.W., Feili D., Popov G.A., ObukhovV.A., Balashov V.V., Mogulkin A.I., Murashko V.M., Nesterenko A.N., Khartov S.A. Design of high-power high-specific impulse RF-ion thruster, Proccedings of 32nd International Electric Propulsion Conference, 2011,IEPC-2011-290, Wiesbaden, Germany.
  6. Behrish R. Problemy prikladnoi fiziki. Raspylenie tverdykh tel ionnoi bombardirovkoi. Fizicheskoe raspylenie odnoelementnykh tverdykh tel (Applied Physics Issue.Solid sputtering by ion bombardment), Moscow, Mir, 1984, 336 p.

Download — informational site MAI

Copyright © 2000-2021 by MAI