Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Richard E. Huffman, PhD.


The demand for increased performance in space propulsion systems is higher than ever as missions are becoming more advanced. As the global supply of xenon depletes, missions demanding high thrust will require alternatives. The research presented here examines iodine as an alternate propellant. The propellant was successfully operated through a BHT-200 thruster in the T6 vacuum facility at Busek Co. Inc. A feed system for the iodine was developed for controlled thruster operation at varying conditions. An inverted pendulum was used to take thrust measurements. Thrust to power ratio, anode efficiency, and specific impulse were calculated. Iodine performance is compared to xenon. Plume measurements were taken by a nude Faraday probe, which measured current density, and an ExB probe, also known as a Wein filter, which measured individual species properties. The data validated anode efficiency from performance measurements. Plume comparisons were made between iodine and xenon. Iodine was found to perform similarly to xenon, but with superior performance at high voltage. Possible effects of iodine operation on spacecraft, thrusters, and power systems were explored.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number