David Villegas Prados

  • Nationality: Spanish
  • Funding entity and Program: Comunidad Autónoma de Madrid. Dirección General de Investigación e Innovación Tecnológica.

PhD Thesis

Advanced methods for the experimental characterization of space propulsion thrusters and its application to the development of the electrostatic emission of ionic liquid-based thrusters.


Pablo Fajardo (UC3M), Jaume Navarro (UC3M), Daniel Pérez Grande (ienai SPACE) and Sara Correyero Plaza (ienai SPACE)


The PhD focuses on the development of novel electric space propulsion rockets, based on ‘electrospray’ technology. Said technology presents itself as an attractive alternative for propulsion on board of small satellite platforms, such as nano- and micro-satellites. In the context of these developments, a solid R&D effort is required for the characterization of the rockets designed and manufactured by Ienai SPACE in regards to their performances (thrust, specific impulse, total and partial efficiencies, total power, etc.). The aforementioned characterization will be made possible through the development of various probes and diagnostics, which will allow the measurement of the various characteristics of the ionic plume, or jet, generated by the thruster. The indirect characterization diagnostics, to be developed and tested can be summarized as follows: a Retarding-Potential-Analyzer (RPA), capable of measuring the effective voltage applied to the ionic jet, a Time-of-Flight (TOF) mass spectroscopy diagnostic, capable of determining the mass to charge ratio of ions (and thus the operation regime of the emitter) and a Faraday probe with angular resolution, capable of measuring the angular dispersion of the jet. Finally, a tomography diagnostic will be carried out to effectively reconstruct the electrospray plume current spatial distributions. The expected impact in the industrial environment is to significantly improve the R&D and technical capabilities of Ienai SPACE, which will have a positive impact on the development rate of the technology and an eventual commercial product based on it.

Project participation

Industrial PhD granted by Comunity of Madrid, carried out within ienai SPACE

Doctoral Meetings 2021-2022

PhD Aerospace Engineering Doctoral Meetings 21-22 – D. Villegas

Doctoral Meetings 2020-2021

PhD Aerospace – Doctoral Meetings 20-21- D. Villegas Prados

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