Event Title

PDH/CEU/FBPE Session #1

Location

Antigua Room

Start Date

24-5-2016 7:30 AM

End Date

24-5-2016 8:30 AM

Description

High specific impulse, high efficiency propulsion is a prerequisite for the sustained success of future NASA missions. Here, we describe the ongoing development of a magnetoplasma propulsion system that is intended to be the main engine of future human missions beyond low-Earth orbit (LEO). Current electric propulsion technologies provide vast improvements in specific impulse (Isp~3,000 s) and efficiency over chemical propulsion (Isp~400 s). However, demonstrated electric propulsion thrusts (milliNewton level) are insufficient for the levels necessary for crewed spacecraft (Newton level). In order to bring the thrust levels of electric propulsion to those of chemical, the exhaust velocity of the electric main engine must be increased by one-to-two orders of magnitude. Flight demonstrated electric thrusters produce exhaust velocities on the order of ~30 km/s, such as on the Dawn mission to Ceres. A possible solution to this shortcoming is to utilize one of the most powerful particle acceleration mechanisms in the Solar System – magnetic reconnection.

Magnetic reconnection is the power source behind solar wind and solar flare phenomena, which are explosions of high energy plasma from the atmosphere of our Sun that propagate through interplanetary space at speeds of 400-3,000 km/s . Through the study of electromagnetic theory, it has been shown that the reconnection process is scale-invariant. As long as sufficient magnetic energy is present, the reconnection process can occur. The realization of this has led to major laboratory reconnection experiments around the globe. However, these experiments are large (~10 m^3 ) and cannot be optimized for inclusion on spacecraft. Our study of the application of magnetic reconnection to in-space propulsion has led to a conceptual deuterium-based experimental setup that can induce reconnection in a volume ofm^3 , and result in a compact, collimated pulsed beam of highspeed plasma. This setup is dependent on two components of existing technology and can be produced at a fraction of the cost of current reconnection studies. Here, we will present the theory and design of the magnetic reconnection propulsion (MRP) system and its scale-invariant capabilities.

Top Three Takeaways

  • This presentation is worth 1 PDH (FBPE-eligible) credential renewal.

Biographies

David Chesny

Dr. Chesny received his PhD from Florida Institute of Technology in 2013 with concentrations in solar physics and advanced plasma propulsion system development. He is currently a Postdoctoral First Award Fellow for the National Space Biomedical Research Institute researching a novel radiation shielding technique for future human long-duration missions deep space. He is also a co-founder of a small business doing basic R&D for the space program and fundamental space science research.

Mr. Valletta has worked in the industrial engineering field for in a variety of engineering-related R&D positions. Mr. Valletta started his engineering career as an intern with Advanced Magnet Lab (AML) researching cryogenics related to a future NASA radiation shielding concept. He has designed and developed thermal actuators and piping and supports for a nuclear facility. In his current position (RS&H, 2013-present), Mr. Valletta works in multiple capacities which include the design of launch facilities and equipment for the support of space launches, as well as spaceport planner and consultant. Mr. Valletta has been active with OrangeWave Innovative Science, LLC, designing a magnetic reconnection-based plasma propulsion system including proof-of-concept experimentation. He has become an expert in the design and operation of plasma production devices, conducting coils, and capacitor banks.

Presentations

View the paper, Magnetic Reconnection Propulsion

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May 24th, 7:30 AM May 24th, 8:30 AM

PDH/CEU/FBPE Session #1

Antigua Room

High specific impulse, high efficiency propulsion is a prerequisite for the sustained success of future NASA missions. Here, we describe the ongoing development of a magnetoplasma propulsion system that is intended to be the main engine of future human missions beyond low-Earth orbit (LEO). Current electric propulsion technologies provide vast improvements in specific impulse (Isp~3,000 s) and efficiency over chemical propulsion (Isp~400 s). However, demonstrated electric propulsion thrusts (milliNewton level) are insufficient for the levels necessary for crewed spacecraft (Newton level). In order to bring the thrust levels of electric propulsion to those of chemical, the exhaust velocity of the electric main engine must be increased by one-to-two orders of magnitude. Flight demonstrated electric thrusters produce exhaust velocities on the order of ~30 km/s, such as on the Dawn mission to Ceres. A possible solution to this shortcoming is to utilize one of the most powerful particle acceleration mechanisms in the Solar System – magnetic reconnection.

Magnetic reconnection is the power source behind solar wind and solar flare phenomena, which are explosions of high energy plasma from the atmosphere of our Sun that propagate through interplanetary space at speeds of 400-3,000 km/s . Through the study of electromagnetic theory, it has been shown that the reconnection process is scale-invariant. As long as sufficient magnetic energy is present, the reconnection process can occur. The realization of this has led to major laboratory reconnection experiments around the globe. However, these experiments are large (~10 m^3 ) and cannot be optimized for inclusion on spacecraft. Our study of the application of magnetic reconnection to in-space propulsion has led to a conceptual deuterium-based experimental setup that can induce reconnection in a volume ofm^3 , and result in a compact, collimated pulsed beam of highspeed plasma. This setup is dependent on two components of existing technology and can be produced at a fraction of the cost of current reconnection studies. Here, we will present the theory and design of the magnetic reconnection propulsion (MRP) system and its scale-invariant capabilities.