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Simulation-guided engineering of an air-breathing electric propulsion concept

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This contribution summarizes recent progress in research and development of an electron-cyclotron-resonance-based air breathing electric propulsion (ABEP) concept. We discuss various simulation sub-modules that have been developed to understand the key physics phenomena underpinning the intended ABEP concept. We also describe the first breadboard ionizer that has been constructed and experimentally characterized and we report on the status of the second breadboard ionizer that is to be constructed in the coming months. The aim of the bread board models being built is especially to maximize the power utilization efficiency in the electron cyclotron resonance ionization chamber. We show that, whenever a comparison is possible, the models are consistent with the obtained experimental data. The combination of experimental and theoretical data presented in this manuscript confirms that it is feasible to operate the proposed ionizer concept at VLEO conditions.

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AO: is the main author of the paper, consolidating the data, KM: is the main author of the global plasma model, MS: is the main author of the DSMC intake simulations, KJ and VD: are working on the construction of the ECR ionizers, TD: provided advice on fundamental collision processes.

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Correspondence to A. Obrusnik.

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Obrusnik, A., Mrózek, K., Šťastný, M. et al. Simulation-guided engineering of an air-breathing electric propulsion concept. CEAS Space J 14, 741–747 (2022).

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