Masters Theses

Keywords and Phrases

Electric Propulsion; Electric Solid Propellant; Pulsed Plasma Thruster


"Electric solid propellants are an attractive option for space propulsion because they are ignited by applied electric power only. In this work, the behavior of pulsed microthruster devices utilizing such a material is investigated. These devices are similar in function and operation to the pulsed plasma thruster, which typically uses Teflon as propellant. A Faraday probe, Langmuir triple probe, residual gas analyzer, pendulum thrust stand and high speed camera are utilized as diagnostic devices. These thrusters are made in batches, of which a few devices were tested experimentally in vacuum environments. Results indicate a plume electron temperature of about 1.7 eV, with an electron density between 1011 and 1014 cm-3. According to thermal equilibrium and adiabatic expansion calculations, these relatively hot electrons are mixed with ~2000 K neutral and ion species, forming a non-equilibrium gas. From time-of-flight analysis, this gas mixture plume has an effective velocity of 1500-1650 m/s on centerline. The ablated mass of this plume is 215 µg on average, of which an estimated 0.3% is ionized species while 45±11% is ablated at negligible relative speed. This late-time ablation occurs on a time scale three times that of the 0.5 ms pulse discharge, and does not contribute to the measured 0.21 mN-s impulse per pulse. Similar values have previously been measured in pulsed plasma thrusters. These observations indicate the electric solid propellant material in this configuration behaves similar to Teflon in an electrothermal pulsed plasma thruster"--Abstract, page iv.


Rovey, Joshua L.

Committee Member(s)

Riggins, David W.
Pernicka, Hank


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Degree Name

M.S. in Aerospace Engineering


Missouri University of Science and Technology

Publication Date

Fall 2016

Journal article titles appearing in thesis/dissertation

  • Plume characterization of electric solid propellant pulsed microthrusters
  • Observation of late-time ablation in electric solid propellant pulsed microthrusters


x, 62 pages

Note about bibliography

Includes bibliographical references.


© 2016 Matthew Scott Glascock

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

File Type




Subject Headings

Solid propellants
Space vehicles -- Electric propulsion systems
Rockets (Aeronautics) -- Fuel

Thesis Number

T 11025

Electronic OCLC #