A 0.5-2.3 kW xenon ion propulsion system is presently being developed under the NASA Solar Electric Propulsion Technology Application Readiness (NSTAR) program. This propulsion system includes a 30 cm diameter xenon ion thruster, a Digital Control Interface Unit, a xenon feed system, and a power processing unit (PPU). The PPU consists of the power supply assemblies which operate the thruster neutralizer, main discharge chamber, and ion optics. Also included are recycle logic and a digital microcontroller. The neutralizer and discharge power supplies employ a dual use configuration which combines the functions of two power supplies into one, significantly simplifying the PPU. Further simplification was realized by implementing a single thruster control loop which regulates the beam current via the discharge current. Continuous throttling is possible over a 0.5-2.3 kW output power range. All three power supplies have been fabricated and tested with resistive loads, and have been combined into a single breadboard unit with the recycle logic and microcontroller. All line and load regulation test results show the power supplies to be within the NSTAR flight PPU specified power output of 1.98 kW. The overall efficiency of the PPU, calculated as the combined efficiencies of the power supplies and controller, at 2.3 kW delivered to resistive loads was 0.90. The component was 6.16 kg. Integration testing of the neutralizer and discharge power supplies with a functional model thruster revealed no issues with discharge ignition or steady state operation.
SPACECRAFT PROPULSION AND POWER
AIAA PAPER 95-2517
Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibition; 10-12 Jul. 1995; San Diego, CA; United States