Nautel said it will research and develop a high-power RF amplifier for use in space travel.
The amplifier is to be used for plasma generation and subsequent acceleration in an electric spacecraft propulsion system, the company stated.
Nautel is collaborating with Ad Astra Rocket Company of Texas in the project. Officials there called Nautel’s high-power RF technology “critical to a successful space application” in the Nautel announcement. “In addition, the low-voltage requirements of these RF transmitters make them compatible with the voltage output of space-borne solar power arrays.”
The plasma-based propulsion system achieves a high exhaust velocity and fuel efficiency. Nautel said plasmas are electrically charged fluids that can be heated to extreme temperatures by radio waves and are controlled and guided by strong magnetic fields. “The magnetic field also insulates the hot gas from any nearby structure, permitting the gas to exceed the melting point of surrounding materials without affecting them.
“In rocket propulsion, the higher the temperature of the exhaust gases, the higher their velocity and hence the higher their fuel efficiency,” Nautel continued. “Plasma rockets feature exhaust velocities far above those achievable by their chemical cousins, so their fuel consumption is extremely low.”
Nautel makes medium-wave AM and FM radio broadcast transmitters, navigational radio beacons, Differential GPS transmitters, high-frequency amplifiers for dielectric heating and other products.
Nautel has more about plasma propulsion on its web site at http://www.nautel.com/rocketscience/.