Journal of Astronautics ›› 2016, Vol. 37 ›› Issue (2): 203-208.doi: 10.3873/j.issn.1000-1328.2016.02.010

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An Air Breathing Electric Thruster for Near Space Vehicle

CHEN Pan, WU Zhi wen, LIU Xiang yang, XIE Kan, WANG Ning fei   

  1. Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing 100081, China
  • Received:2015-03-18 Revised:2015-09-21 Online:2016-02-15 Published:2016-02-25


An air-breathing electric thruster, which uses the Single Dielectric Barrier Discharge (SDBD) technique to generate the plasma, is proposed in this paper for near-space propulsion missions. Using the SDBD plasma source, this air-breathing electric thruster can theoretically operate in a wide range of pressure (from several Pa to 1atm). To investigate the performance of this kind of air-breathing electric thruster, a simple thruster is manufactured and the thrust it produces under different ambient pressure and applied voltage conditions are measurement. The measuring results shows that under a moderate applied voltage, when the pressure ranges from 10〖KG*9〗kPa to 90kPa, the thrust is on the order of 10 2~10 3μN. At a certain pressure, the power law correlation is found between the thrust and the applied voltage. With a constant voltage, the thrust increases first to a maximum and then decreases with the gradual decrease of pressure, and the pressure at which the maximum thrust is obtained is a function of the applied voltage.

Key words: Air-breathing electric propulsion, Near-space vehicle, Single dielectric barrier discharge

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