A breakthrough: First Ignition of the Helicon-based Radio-Frequency Inductive Plasma Thruster (IPT)

The Institute of Space Systems (IRS) of the University of Stuttgart has developed a cutting edge plasma thruster based on Helyssen’s patented Helicon plasma source targeting “very low earth orbit” satellites (ABEP). The work has been carried out within the EU DISCOVERER project

“The ignition of the inductive plasma thruster at IRS is a breakthrough, as it is not only the first thruster of its kind but also the first cylindrical birdcage antenna driven helicon thruster in the world. The first tests showed very good power coupling efficiency and a plasma jet that can be seen in figure below. The next months will be dedicated to the respective plasma diagnostics to characterize the new IPT, and to evaluate the generated thrust.”

Link to the media release

https://www.irs.uni-stuttgart.de/en/institute/news/A-breakthrough-First-Ignition-of-the-Helicon-based-Radio-Frequency-Inductive-Plasma-Thruster-IPT/

 Figure 1 The Inductive Plasma Thruster IPT
Plasma thruster with Helyssen’s helicon plasma source
Figure 3 IPT plasma jet, Nitrogen as propellant.
Nitrogen plasma jet