Efficiency of electrodynamic tether thrusters

Sanmartín Losada, Juan Ramón, Estes, Robert D., Lorenzini, Enrico C. and Elaskar, Sergio (2006). Efficiency of electrodynamic tether thrusters. "Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets", v. 43 (n. 3); pp. 659-666. ISSN 0022-4650. https://doi.org/10.2514/1.16174.


Title: Efficiency of electrodynamic tether thrusters
  • Sanmartín Losada, Juan Ramón
  • Estes, Robert D.
  • Lorenzini, Enrico C.
  • Elaskar, Sergio
Item Type: Article
Título de Revista/Publicación: Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets
Date: May 2006
ISSN: 0022-4650
Volume: 43
Faculty: E.T.S.I. Aeronáuticos (UPM)
Department: Física Aplicada a la Ingeniería Aeronáutica [hasta 2014]
Creative Commons Licenses: Recognition - No derivative works - Non commercial

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The performance efficiency of electrodynamic bare tethers acting as thrusters in low Earth orbit, as gauged by the ratio of the system mass dedicated to thrust over mission impulse, is analyzed and compared to the performance efficiency of electrical thrusters. Tether systems are much lighter for times beyond six months in space-tug operations, where there is a dedicated solar array, and beyond one month for reboost of the International Space Station, where the solar array is already in place. Bare-tether propulsive efficiency itself, with the tether considered as part of the power plant, is higher for space tugs. Tether optimization shows that thin tapes have greater propulsive efficiency and are less sensitive to plasma density variations in orbit than cylindrical tethers. The efficiency increases with tape length if some segment next to the power supply at the top is insulated to make the tether potential bias vanish at the lower end; multitape tethers must be used to keep the efficiency high at high thrust levels. The efficiency has a maximum for tether-hardware mass equal to the fraction of power-subsystem mass going into ohmic power, though the maximum is very flat. For space tugs, effects of induced-bias changes in orbit might need to be reduced by choosing a moderately large power-subsystem to tether-hardware mass ratio or by tracking the current-voltage characteristic of the solar array.

More information

Item ID: 26672
DC Identifier: https://oa.upm.es/26672/
OAI Identifier: oai:oa.upm.es:26672
DOI: 10.2514/1.16174
Official URL: http://arc.aiaa.org/doi/abs/10.2514/1.16174
Deposited by: Biblioteca ETSI Aeronauticos
Deposited on: 27 May 2014 13:15
Last Modified: 10 Feb 2023 11:59
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