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Ionic and Plasma Propulsion for Space Vehicles

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3 Author(s)
Brewer, G.R. ; Hughes Research Laboratories, Malibu, Calif. ; Currie, M.R. ; Knechtli, R.C.

The propulsion of future space vehicles by means of electrical engines appears to be the most practical and effective method for long interplanetary missions. The basic principles of the major class of such electrical engines, viz., those utilizing ionic or plasma acceleration, involve technologies familiar to and largely stemming from the work of electronics engineers and plasma physicists. This paper describes the various methods under investigation today for the acceleration and neutralization of charged particles for use in propulsion. The several topics discussed include the problem of beam neutralization, cesium ion engines, electron-bombardment engines, and magnetic plasma acceleration.

Published in:

Proceedings of the IRE  (Volume:49 ,  Issue: 12 )