Laser propulsion 10 kW thruster test program results

J. Black, H. Krier, R. J. Glumb

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This paper summarizes the results of the first-ever experimental tests of a 10 kW laser-powered rocket engine. The rocket engine used high-temperature laser-sustained plasmas to heat flows of argon and hydrogen propellants, which were then exhausted through a rocket nozzle to generate thrust. This paper describes the design of the thruster and test support equipment in detail, including a description of the diagnostic systems used. This is followed by a summary of the performance data acquired during the thruster tests, particularly specific impulse and thruster efficiency as functions of pressure and propellant type. Key findings include demonstrations of specific impulse values of up to 350 seconds at efficiencies near 40% using hydrogen propellant, and the discovery of a low-velocity stability limit for laser-sustained plasmas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes
EventAIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE 28th Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit, 1992 - Nashville, United States
Duration: Jul 6 1992Jul 8 1992


OtherAIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE 28th Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit, 1992
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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