The National Science Foundation recently awarded a research and development grant to Eastern Michigan University and partner Rogue Space Systems for their project on a new type of electronic propulsion thruster. The $271,381 grant will enhance the partnership between academia and the physics and astronomy industry.
Evan Aguirre, Rogue propulsion engineer and principal investigator, will lead the electronic propulsion thruster project along with co-principal investigator Surabhi Jaiswal, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at EMU and co-principal investigator. In a news interview, Aguirre said that the primary objective of the proposed work is to produce a new prototype of an electric propulsion thruster that utilizes novel fuel delivery systems.
"This work will provide scientific knowledge and furtherance of the space applications for nuclear fuel recycling, power generation, and related space technologies," Aguirre said. "In addition to the propulsion system, the proposed electrical power will also be able to power basic satellite functions and serve as a redundant system to solar power, which is traditionally used on spacecraft."
The proposed work for the year-long grant is to make a small hall effect thruster. Jaiswal said this type of thruster depends on a metal propellant rather than a gas or chemical propellant.
Rogue Space Systems and EMU began collaborating in 2021 to make debris detection and electronic propulsion technology advancements.
"Our lab has a vacuum chamber that we can use when we test the thruster. This research provides EMU students with real-world lab experience and helps them explore different research fields," Jaiswal said.
Jaiswal has two students working with her in the plasma lab with hopes of another student joining their team next semester. In addition to gaining hands-on experience, the students are also monetarily compensated for their time. The students also recently presented their research at the 64th Annual American Physical Society, Division of Plasma Physics Conference in Washington.
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