Faculty Advisor

Blandino, John J.


A Pulsed Plasma Thruster (PPT) is a type of electric propulsion considered for use on spacecraft flying in formation. The use of a PPT near other spacecraft requires characterization of the light emission when fired. This project’s goal was to measure the emission spectra from an Aerojet Corp. laboratory model PPT. Prior to testing, gas leaks in the used vacuum chamber were located and repaired. A PPT mount and plume baffle were also designed and fabricated to support the PPT and protect the chamber walls from exhaust plume carbon deposition. Moreover, custom cabling for both command and telemetry were assembled, tested and installed in the vacuum chamber. Finally, a LabVIEW program was designed, tested, and incorporated in the test setup to allow computer controlled, automated operation.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Date Accepted

April 2014


Aerospace Engineering

Project Type

Major Qualifying Project



Advisor Department

Mechanical Engineering