ENGRMAE 113 Electric Propulsion (2017-2018)

ENGRMAE 113 Electric Propulsion

(Not required for any major. Selected Elective for ME.)
Catalog Data:

ENGRMAE 113 Electric Propulsion (Credit Units: 4) Space propulsion requirements and maneuvers, stressing those best suited to electric propulsion. An introduction to plasma physics. Electrothermal, electromagnetic and electrostatis accelerators, with emphasis in technologies (ion engines, Hall thrusters and colloidal thrusters) belonging to the latter family. Prerequisite: MAE112. Concurrent with ENGRMAE 213. (Design units: 1)

Required Textbook:
. Edition, , 1969, ISBN-13 978-0486450407.

Recommended Textbook:

This course is based on distributed notes. F.F. Chen, “Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion”, Springer (2006). Several scientific articles.

Manuel Gamero-Castaño
Relationship to Student Outcomes
No student outcomes specified.
Course Learning Outcomes. Students will:

1. Be acquainted with space propulsion applications enabled by or benefiting from very high exhaust velocity thrusters, i.e. electric propulsion

2. Understand the physical background and engineering of electric propulsion technologies.

3. Perform preliminary design of different electric thrusters, driven by space propulsion requirements.

Prerequisites by Topic

Electromagnetic theory. Fluid mechanics and transport phenomena.

Lecture Topics:
  • Space propulsion requirements. Realm of electric propulsion.
  • Overview of electric thrusters. Solar versus nuclear power.
  • Low thrust, spiral orbit transfer. Deep space missions.
  • Orbit maintenance, attitude control and formation flying.
  • Plasma physics, introduction.
  • Plasma physics, single-particle motions.
  • Plasma physics, fluid equations.
  • Plasma physics, ionization and transport.
  • Electrothermal acceleration, arcjets.
  • Electrostatic acceleration, ion engines.
  • Electrostatic acceleration, Hall thrusters.
  • Electrostatic acceleration, colloidal thrusters.
  • Electromagnetic versus electrostatic acceleration.
  • Magneto plasma dynamic thrusters.
  • Pulsed plasma thrusters.
  • Lectures are concurrent with MAE213. Homework sets and exams for undergraduate and graduate students are different
Class Schedule:

Meets for 3 hours of lecture and 1 hour of discussion each week for 10 weeks.

Computer Usage:

Some homework problems require the use of a computer and basic knowledge of Matlab or Mathematics.

Laboratory Projects:


Professional Component

Contributes toward the Aerospace Engineering topics courses. Contributes toward the Mechanical Engineering topics courses.

Design Content Description

Some lectures and homework problems involve preliminary-design analyses of thruster components such as ion acceleration grids, propellant feed systems, and magnetic circuits. Additional homework sets tackle the overall specification of thruster systems for typical space missions.

Lectures: 100%
Laboratory Portion: 0%
Grading Criteria:
  • Homework: 40%
  • Midterm: 20%
  • Final Exam: 40%
  • Total: 100%
Estimated ABET Category Content:

Mathematics and Basic Science: 0.0 credit units

Computing: 0.0 credit units

Engineering Topics: 4.0 credit units

Engineering Science: 3.0 credit units

Engineering Design: 1.0 credit units

September 6, 2017
Senate Approved:
April 29, 2013
Approved Effective:
2013 Fall Qtr