A dual-electrode-stage PPT (DESPPT) using solid propellants has been developed with simple parallel electrodes and a deflected angle of 20°. By setting and testing different possible energy efficiencies, experiments were performed with one-stage and two-stage PPTs under high vacuum conditions (∼10−5 Torr). The experiments revealed that increasing prototype second-stage energy leads to an increase in total impulse bit. Because a single-electrode-stage PPT has been demonstrated to only require approximately 60% ablated propellant to accelerate plasma, the dual-stage regimen might increase the percentage of mass that is ablated propellant. In other words, increasing the exhaust velocity and total impulse bit may be achievable by reusing late-time ablation with the dual regimen. A maximum total impulse bit of 72.35 μN∙s has been obtained with the dual-mode prototype when 25 J of total energy is released through the thruster discharge chamber.
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