Development of Multi-Modal, High-Density Electrospray Porous Metal Thrusters
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Electrospray thrusters have shown significant promise for providing throttlable, in-space micropropulsion to small satellite platforms. Moreover, they represent the opportunity to bridge the technological gap that has long made the characteristics of high performance and low cost mutually exclusive. As an NSTR Fellow, I propose to develop a unique electrospray thruster concept that will take advantage of recent advances in the field to significantly augment system efficiency and provide the capability for high resolution tuning of thruster power and specific impulse. This developmental effort will be facilitated by a theoretical investigation of porous emitter-based electrospray physics, which will be translated to models serving as the foundation for a numerical mapping of the thruster design space. Along with a porous emitter microfabrication experience base currently being garnered in MITís Space Propulsion Laboratory (SPL), this information will be used to inform the construction of high fidelity devices for testing and evaluation.