Accession Number : ADA193764

Title :   A Theoretical Evaluation of Laser Sustained Plasma Thruster Performance.

Descriptive Note : Rept. for 1 Sep 86-31 Aug 87,

Corporate Author : TENNESSEE UNIV SPACE INST TULLAHOMA CENTER FOR LASER APPLICATIONS

Personal Author(s) : Jeng, San-Mou ; Keefer, Dennis

Report Date : 21 APR 1988

Pagination or Media Count : 10

Abstract : An extensive numerical experiment has been conducted to evaluate rocket thruster performance using a laser-sustained hydrogen plasma as the propellant. The plasma was sustained using a 30 kW CO2 laser beam operated at 10.6 micrometers focused inside the thruster. The steady-state Navier-Stokes equations coupled with the laser power absorption process have been solved numerically. A pressure based Navier-Stokes solver using body-fitted coordinate was used to calculate the laser-supported rocket flow which included both recirculating and transonic flow regions. The local thermodynamic equilibrium (LTE) assumption was used for the plasma thermophysical and optical properties. Geometric ray tracing was adopted to describe the laser beam. Several different throut size thrusters operated at 150 and 300 kPa chamber stagnation pressure were studied. It was found that the thruster performance (vacuum specific impulse) was highly dependent on the operating conditions, and a properly designed laser supported thruster can attain a specific impulse around 1500 secs. The heat loading on the thruster wall was also estimated and was in the range of that for a conventional chemical rocket. Keywords: Steady state; Navier Stokes; Laser sustained; Transonic; Body fitted coordinates; Recirculating; Equilibrium.

Descriptors :   *NAVIER STOKES EQUATIONS, *THRUSTERS, *PLASMA ENGINES, *COMBUSTION CHAMBERS, *COMBUSTION CHAMBER GASES, CHEMICALS, EQUILIBRIUM(GENERAL), FLOW, GEOMETRY, HEAT, LASER BEAMS, NUMERICAL ANALYSIS, OPTICAL PROPERTIES, PERFORMANCE(ENGINEERING), PLASMAS(PHYSICS), PRESSURE, RAY TRACING, RECIRCULATION, SPECIFIC IMPULSE, STAGNATION PRESSURE, STEADY STATE, TEST AND EVALUATION, THERMODYNAMICS, THERMOPHYSICAL PROPERTIES, TRANSONIC FLOW, VACUUM, WALLS, DIGITAL SIMULATION, CARBON DIOXIDE LASERS, RADIATION ABSORPTION, ROCKET ENGINES.

Subject Categories : Combustion and Ignition
      Electricity and Magnetism
      Test Facilities, Equipment and Methods

Distribution Statement : APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE