Helicon plasma devices
Helicon plasma devices are capable of producing high density plasma with close to fully ionised species. This paper presents a radically new class of plasma propulsion thrusters that has the advanced capabilities necessary to perform missions previously unfeasible. This light-weight propulsion system called HIIPER (Helicon Injected Inertial Plasma Electrostatic Rocket) employs one of the highest density plasma sources (Helicon plasma source) for plasma production and one of the most erosion-resistant accelerators (Inertial Electrostatic Confinement (IEC)) for plasma acceleration.
Helicon plasma sources can create plasma with ionization fractions as high as ~90 %. This decoupling of plasma generation and plasma acceleration allows for a feature few electric thrusters possess which is variable specific impulse.
HIIPER Plasma Propusion
HIIPER’s versatile operational characteristics opens the way to many new demanding space missions. HIIPER can switch between high specific impulse(low thrust) and low specific impulse(high thrust) configurations increasing fuel economy and allowing more mission flexibility, which could allow for more complex deep space scientific missions. HIIPER also has the ability for vectored thrust; this is because the IEC grid can be rotated allowing control over beam direction. Vectored thrust can be extremely beneficial in lowering the overall weight of the spacecraft by reducing the number of maneuvering thrusters and other assisting components.