Predictive Lifetime Estimates of Space Propulsion Systems

Presenter: Huck Beng Chew, Department of Aerospace Engineering, University of Illinois

Tuesday, December 13

8 AM Pacific / 9 AM Mountain / 10 AM Central / 11 AM Eastern


The need for an efficient, high-thrust space propulsion system to augment or replace traditional chemical propulsion systems is of great national importance, and is paramount to advancing space supremacy of the United States. One of the candidate propulsion system for NASA’s Artemis program and human space flight missions on Mars is the Hall Thruster, which is a high power electric propulsion (EP) system. Predicting the failure lifetime of high power electric propulsion associated with sputtering-induced damage to the graphitic pole covers remains challenging, due to large scatter in experimental data on the sputtering yield of carbon materials. I will highlight efforts to resolve uncertainties in the sputtering data with scale-bridging molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, and to extract meaningful physics to guide sputtering experimentation.


Huck Beng Chew received his Ph.D. in 2007 under a President Graduate Fellowship from the National University of Singapore, and joined Brown University as a post-doc and later, as a Research Assistant Professor. In 2011 he joined the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as an Assistant Professor, and he is currently an Associate Professor in the department since 2018. Huck Beng received the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research in 2017. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, and is a registered Chartered Engineer. He served as chair of the ASME Fracture and Failure Mechanics technical committee, and is currently on the ASME Materials Division Executive Committee.