Development and chamber testing of a miniature radio-frequency ion thruster for microspacecraft

Valérie F. Mistoco, Sven G. Bilén, Michael M. Micci

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The high specific impulse provided by electric propulsion devices make them highly desirable for space missions in which the propellant mass budget is limited. The ion thruster is of particular interest because of its simplicity and its ability to make rapid changes in thrust by modifying input power level and acceleration grid potential. With respect to micro- and nanosatellites, a miniature ion thruster could provide an attractive method for changing spacecraft attitude and spin rate, as well as for enabling formation flying. A miniature radio frequency ion thruster (MRIT) is being developed and tested at The Pennsylvania State University. It consists of a radio frequency coil operating at a frequency of 13.56 MHz surrounding an ionization chamber capped with accelerating grids. This paper discusses the ongoing development work and testing of the MRIT for inclusion on the LionSat nanosatellite.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-143
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Space Agency, (Special Publication) ESA SP
Issue number555
StatePublished - 2004
EventSpace Propulsion 2004 - 4th International Spacecraft Propulsion Conference - Sardinia, Italy
Duration: Jun 2 2004Jun 4 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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