Waveguide-heated microwave plasmas for space propulsion applications are analyzed by a two-dimensional numerical solution of the combined Navier-Stokes and Maxwell equations. Two waveguide configurations—one purely transmitting and the other with a reflecting end wall—are considered. Plasma stability and absorption characteristics are studied and contrasted with the characteristics of resonant cavity heated plasmas. In addition, preliminary estimates of the overall efficiency and the thrust and specific impulse of the propulsion system are also made. The computational results are used to explain experimental trends and to better understand the working of these devices.

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