Title: Design of a variable ISP space engine

Authors: Samanvay Karambhe; Xiaofeng Wu; Rishi Verma

Addresses: School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia ' School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia ' School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Abstract: An existing propulsion system is modified to obtain variable ISP capabilities that could be used to modulate thrust. This created an engine that is able to use low thrust and high ISP setting for interplanetary travel and use high thrust and low ISP setting for attitude control and compensating for atmospheric drag. A cold gas thruster (CGT) was created by using the body of a charge exchange thruster (CXT) effectively producing a dual mode CXT with CGT capabilities. The dual mode CXT was capable of a maximum thrust of 94 µN in electric engine mode. Experimentations showed that using Argon, the dual mode CXT in CGT mode produced a thrust of 4 mN, a 43-fold improvement. A convergent divergent nozzle was designed and validated via ANSYS Fluent for use with the dual mode CXT, it showed a 16-fold improvement in CGT performance at low mass flow rates < 50 sccm.

Keywords: vacuum chamber; neutralisation; cold gas thruster; CGT; convergent divergent nozzle; charge exchange thruster; CXT; ANSYS Fluent.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSPACESE.2018.090552

International Journal of Space Science and Engineering, 2018 Vol.5 No.1, pp.82 - 103

Received: 01 Sep 2017
Accepted: 08 Nov 2017

Published online: 09 Mar 2018 *

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