Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

First Advisor

Kristina Lemmer

Second Advisor

Bade Shrestha


An Thrust Stand is a device that uses the basic principles of torsion and displace­ment to experimentally measure and calculate the thrust generated by an Electric Propulsion (EP) Thruster. Western Michigan University is host to three organiza­tions that work with electric propulsion thrusters currently without a way of ob­taining direct experimental thrust data. For this Senior Design Project, the flexure, optical sensing, damping and leveling systems for a thrust stand originally designed by Hannah Watts in her WMU Honors Thesis: Design of A Thrust Stand for Elec­tric Propulsion [13] will be constructed. The four subsystems will be redesigned, optimized, and integrated into the thrust stand for use by student organizations. Additionally, substantial documentation will provided to allow for future reconfigu­ration, ease of use, and easy replication.

The thrust stand will be operated inside WMU's Aerospace Laboratory for Plasma Experiments (ALPE) large vacuum chamber at pressures ranging from (10-7 - 10-3 Torr). A modular design will be used to allow for the different organizations to share the same thrust stand. Accuracy, compatibility, size, cost, and the vacuum environment will drive the design criteria for each unique subsystem. Goals for de­sign, construction, and implementation of the various subsystems will be discussed. The proposed thrust measurement range: lOµN to lmN. Ideal measurement ac­curacy for the thrust stand is lOµN. The estimated budget for construction of the four subsystems is estimated at $5,296.33 USD.


Co-authored with:

Nathaniel Allwine

Jeremy Baiocchi

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access

Hefferan_Presentation.pdf (3752 kB)
Defense Presentation