Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Don Plumlee


Part of the research at Boise State is a miniaturized plasma propulsion thruster. The purpose of the thruster is to provide the necessary location realignments for small satellites in space. The grid creates an electrostatic field, which extracts plasma ions from an Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP) source. The ions are propelled toward a collector plate being a second identical grid, which in turn creates the desired thrust. The size and density of the openings in the grid are essential to optimizing the thrust produced. The grid geometry contributes to the ion departure angle (focusing) and the ion transparency. The Stainless Steel grids currently being made and tested are 26mm in diameter with an array of varying sized circular holes. Computer modeling of the thrust, which is to be created by the grids, is an integral part of the research to help establish the desired sizing and location of the holes within the grid. This presentation will primarily focus on the manufacturing process of the grids. Initially manufactured using a chemical etch process, the grids were not properly aligned and exhibited a rough surface finish. In this work, a more traditional machining process has been adapted with excellent results. A Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) mill is programmed to drill and ream the grid and holes to the desired diameter. This gives a clean finish, which eliminates arcing. Data to illustrate the improved quality achieved will be presented in the form of images and functional thrust results.