A Magneto Plasma Dynamic (MPD) thruster test firing at MIT's Astrovac. (Image courtesy of MIT.)
Space Propulsion begins with a review of rocket propulsion fundamentals. The course then proceeds into advanced propulsion concepts, ranging from chemical to electrical engines. Propulsion system selection criteria and mission analysis are introduced. The bulk of the semester is devoted to the physics and engineering of various engine classes, including electrothermal, electrostatic and electro-magnetic. Specific topics include arcjets, ion engines, Hall thrusters and colloid thrusters.