Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Koenig, Keith

Committee Member

Polzin, Kurt

Committee Member

Janus, Mark J.

Committee Member

Winger, Allen Jeff

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access


Aerospace Engineering

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)


James Worth Bagley College of Engineering


Department of Aerospace Engineering


Electric propulsion systems utilize electrical energy to produce thrust for spacecraft propulsion. These systems have multiple applications ranging from Earth orbit North-South station keeping to solar system exploratory missions such as NASA’s Discovery, New Frontiers, and Flagship class missions that focus on exploring scientifically interesting targets. In an electromagnetic thruster, a magnetic field interacting with current in an ionized gas (plasma) accelerates the propellant to produce thrust. Pulsed inductive thrusters rely on an electrodeless discharge where both the magnetic field in the plasma and the plasma current are induced by a time-varying current in an external circuit. The multi-dimensional acceleration model for a pulsed inductive plasma thruster consists of a set of circuit equations describing the electrical behavior of the thruster coupled to a one-dimensional momentum equation that allow for estimating thruster performance. Current models lack a method to account for the time-varying energy distribution in an inductive plasma accelerator.