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United States Patent 5,239,820
Leifer, et. al.Aug. 31, 1993

Electric propulsion using C.sub.60 molecules

Inventors: Leifer; Stephanie D. (Pasadena, CA); Saunders; Winston A. (So. Pasadena, CA).
Assignee: California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, CA).
Appl. No.: 985,435
Filed: Dec. 3, 1992

Intl. Cl.:F03H 1/00;
U.S. Cl.: 60/202.; 60/204.;
Field of Search:200.1;202;203.1;204;253

References Cited

U.S. Patent Documents
3,555,823Jan., 1971Guman 60/202
3,898,798Aug., 1975Williams 60/203 .1
5,114,477May, 1992Mort et al. 106/472
5,132,105Jul., 1992Remo 423/445

Primary Examiner: Casaregola; Louis J.


Fullerene propellants, which are stable carbon cage structures composed of even numbers of carbon atoms in the range of about 32 to 200 atoms, particularly a combination of conveniently obtainable C(60) and C(70), may be carried in solid form in a spacecraft, sublimated to produce the appropriate molecular propellant such as C(60) or C(70), which may then be ionized by DC discharge or RF radiation to efficiently produce specific impulses in the range above 1000 lbf -s/lbm.

20 Claims, 3 Drawing Figures

Government Interest


The invention described herein was made in the performance of work under a NASA contract, and is subject to the provisions of Public Law 96-517 (35 USC 202) in Which the Contractor has elected to retain title.

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