Helicon Plasma Thruster Design Optimization for CubeSat Applications
Electric propulsion (EP) provides high propellant efficiency to give spacecraft the capability of large maneuvers at the cost of low propellant mass. This project aims to design a compact helicon thruster of maximum thrust, exhaust velocity, and efficiency on a small scale to be used for CubeSat applications and small spacecraft missions. Such thrusters output low impulse for use in CubeSats. Methods of calibration and measuring micronewton-to millinewton-level thrust are reviewed to produce high-quality thrust measurements. Analyses of plasma dynamics, such as verifying plasma generation and magnetic confinement, are discussed as a part of the optimization scheme of the thruster.