Breakthroughs in advanced propulsion systems can significantly improve space mission performance well beyond what can be achieved with today's conventional systems. The main benefits would include improvements in overall mission delta-v manoeuvre capability and the enabling of entirely new missions or space transportation architectures. To further explore our solar system, faster trip times, substantional increase in payload mass delivery, or a large reduction in overall spacecraft mass/size is needed.
The activities within the Advanced Concept Team aim to investigate novel methods for generating thrust in space. By studying new scientific advancements, we aim to provide a first look on future operational capabilities. Several topics currently under investigation are:
- Plasma diagnostics for accurate measurements of plasma thruster performance
- Plasma modelling of re-entry vehicles
A good source for further reading into various propulsion concepts is:
G.P. Sutton & O. Biblarz Rocket Propulsion Elements Wiley & Sons, 8th edition, 2010