Mechanical Engineering Department Aerospace Program Faculty Candidate Seminar: James Szabo

Monday, April 02, 2018
3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Floor/Room #: 

Mechanical Engineering Department

Aerospace Program



James Szabo, Ph.D.

Monday, April 2, 2018

3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Higgins Laboratories 102



James Szabo received a B.S. degree with distinction in mechanical engineering from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY in 1991, a M.S. degree in aeronautics and astronautics from Stanford University, Stanford, CA in 1992, and a Ph.D. degree in aeronautics and astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA in 2001.  From 1992 through 1996, he served on active duty in the United States Air Force, attaining the rank of Captain.  From 1996 through 2001, he was a Research Assistant with the Space Systems Laboratory at MIT.  Since 2001, he has been employed by the Busek Co. Inc. in Natick, MA, where he was a Research Scientist from 2001 – 2007, and presently serves as Chief Scientist for Hall Thrusters.  His research experience and interests include: spacecraft propulsion and propellants; numerical modeling of plasmas, particles, and fluids; spacecraft and missions; high altitude propulsion; chemical propellants and combustion; and aerospace vehicles.  Dr. Szabo is an Associate Fellow in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAAA) and serves on the electric propulsion technical committee. He has authored or co-authored over 45 articles and conference papers, as well as five patents. 





Advanced Propulsion Concepts for Atmospheric and In-Space Applications

Research Presentation Abstract

Electric propulsion (EP) can achieve exhaust velocities that are impossible with chemical propulsion, greatly diminishing the fuel load that must be carried on a spacecraft.  The use of air and other in-situ propellants in chemical and electric propulsion systems also provides mass benefits.  With Hall Effect thrusters (HETs) and other forms of electric propulsion, a wide variety of mission applications is possible, ranging in space from the upper reaches of the ionosphere to the outer reaches of the solar system.  Due to ever-increasing demands on spacecraft capability and mission architectures, development of HETs is an active field, with thrusters sized to propel satellites ranging from CubeSats to interplanetary cargo vessels.  For HETs and other plasma thrusters, many propellants are feasible, including xenon, iodine, air, carbon dioxide, and substances which may be collected in-situ; therefore, thruster compatibility and operation with alternative propellants has been a highly active area of research.  This seminar will describe a variety of advanced propulsion experiments with HETs and other concepts.  This seminar will also describe how numerical modeling is used in conjunction with diagnostics to analyze existing thruster designs and develop next-generation thrusters.  Air breathing electric propulsion systems will be described that function in the upper edges of the atmosphere on Earth, Mars, or Venus, enabling a new type of aerospace vehicle.  An advanced chemical rocket will also be described that combusts its fuel with the air on Mars, improving sample return missions.