Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Aeronautical Engineering


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Richard D. Branam, PhD


This research is focused on several areas of the μPPT performance. An important idea studied is the effect of lifetime use on the performance. The thruster is fired for a simulated lifetime of use to see if there is an impact on the thrust of the thruster later in life. Also vital is the efficiency of the thruster. A μPPT performing at max efficiency will ionize all ablated material; however, we know that not to be the case. In this research the effort is made to collect these non-ionized particles in order to measure their mass post-test. With this collected mass and a knowledge of how much the thruster has ablated, it can be determined what percentage of the propellant has been ionized. With the non-ionized particles also comes a concern about contamination. Knowing the amount of particles that can collect at the end of a lifetime of use allows a better understanding of what contamination issues a spacecraft may have and what precautions need to be made.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number