Dr. Kurt Polzin, NASA Marshall

In-space Electric Propulsion - Past History, Present use and Future Possibilities
March 19, 2021


The use of Electric Propulsion (EP) on satellites for commercial, defense, and space science missions has been increasing in recent decades. This seminar will examine the history of in-space electric propulsion flights, starting from humble beginnings in the early 1960s and proceeding to present-day spacecraft orbiting the Earth or voyaging to other bodies within the Solar System. The seminar will conclude with a discussion of future flight missions that may employ electric propulsion -- such as various sample return missions, the Lunar Gateway, and human Mars missions -- and the challenges of designing, testing, and flying more advanced propulsion systems.


Dr. Kurt Polzin

Space Systems Team Lead of the Advanced Concepts Office at NASA's George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, and he is the incoming Chief Engineer for NASA's Space Nuclear Propulsion project. Dr. Polzin joined NASA-Marshall in 2004 as a Propulsion Research Engineer. He is a recognized expert on inductive pulsed plasma thrusters, electric propulsion testing, and electromagnetic plasma diagnostic methods. Dr. Polzin received his undergraduate degree from The Ohio State University and his Ph.D. from Princeton University. He is a very active member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) professional society, presently serving his second term as Southeastern Regional Director for AIAA.