Prediction and experimental measurement of the electromagnetic thrust generated by a microwave thruster system
A microwave thruster system that can convert microwave power directly to thrust without a gas propellant is developed. In the system, a cylindrical tapered resonance cavity and a magnetron microwave source are used respectively as the thruster cavity and the energy source to generate the electromagnetic wave. The wave is radiated into and then reflected from the cavity to form a pure standing wave with non-uniform electromagnetic pressure distribution. Consequently, a net electromagnetic thrust exerted on the axis of the thruster cavity appears, which is demonstrated through theoretical calculation based on the electromagnetic theory. The net electromagnetic thrust is also experimentally measured in the range from 70 mN to 720 mN when the microwave output power is from 80 W to 2500 W.