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Center Innovation Fund: GRC CIF

HiVHAc Thruster Wear and Structural Tests

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

HiVHAc Thruster Wear and Structural Tests
NASA GRC is developing a 4.5 kW-class Hall propulsion system. This system includes a long life high performance Hall Effect Thruster (HET), a highly efficient variable input and output voltage power processing unit (PPU), and a xenon feed system (XFS). Several mission studies performed by NASA GRC’s Collaborative Modeling for Parametric Assessment of Space Systems (COMPASS) team have identified a 4.5 kW-Class Hall propulsion system with dual model capability (high thrust-to-power and high specific impulse) as enabling for some Discovery and New Frontier class design reference missions (DRMs) and enhancing to others. In addition recent on-orbit data for SOA 4.5 kW-class Hall propulsion systems has shown in-space performance degradation due to inherent thruster design flaws. Additional testing of a HiVHAc thruster is proposed. The new design incorporates the latest advances in thruster technology including a centrally mounted cathode and a magnetic field topology that results in high thruster performance, long thruster life. The design is also invariant to facility background pressure conditions, resulting in ground test performance which is very similar to on-orbit performance. These unique design feature incorporated in the HiVHAc thruster eliminate critical flaws that SOA flight Hall thrusters have exhibited. To transfer the HiVHAc technology to the commercial market, NASA GRC needs to demonstrate that the thruster design has the lifetime capability and structural design maturity to meet NASA and commercial mission requirements. This investment in the HiVHAC thruster wear and environmental tests will demonstrate a HiVHAc thruster design that is ready for qualification. In addition, the HiVHAc thruster design will be fully compatible with the prototype model PPU development that NASA GRC is performing with Colorado Power Electronics, resulting in a new domestic EP subsystem. The goal is to advance the maturity of a 4.5 kW-class dual mode (high thrust-to-power and high specific impulse) Hall Effect Thruster (HET), with a centrally mounted cathode, via analysis and test. More »

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