Investigation of stabilized resonant cavity microwave plasmas for propulsion

Philip Balaam, Michael M. Micci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Results are presented for the performance of a microwave electrothermal thruster utilizing bluff-body and swirling flow stabilized plasmas with helium and nitrogen propellent. Stabilized plasmas have been produced in the TM01, electromagnetic cavity mode with coupling efficiencies approaching 100% and specific powers up to 27.3 MJ/kg. Fluid dynamic measurements indicate specific impulses of up to 543 s, efficiencies of 44-69%, and thrusts of 0.27—0.40 N with helium propellant. Spectroscopic results indicate plasma core electron temperatures of 11, 840-12, 170 K with extremely flat radial profiles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1021-1027
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Propulsion and Power
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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