A long duration test of the DSl flight spare ion thruster (FT2) is presently being conducted at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. To, date the thruster has accumulated over 23,500 hours of operation, and 190 kg of Xenon propellant, over 230% of the initial design life. The primary objectives of the test include the processing of 200 kg of Xenon propellant, the identification of unknown failure modes, the characterization and drivers of these failure modes, and to measure performance degradation as the thruster wears. The test is fitted with an extensive array of diagnostics to measure engine wear and performance degradation. To date the most notable erosion processes include severe discharge cathode keeper erosion, accelerator grid erosion, reduction in electrical isolation of the neutralizer assembly, and deposit formation within the neutralizer orifice, reducing margin from plume mode. Over the past 23,500 hours of operation, performance degradation has been minimal, and it is anticipated that the above erosion processes will not preclude the thruster from processing over 200 kg of Xenon.
Spacecraft Propulsion and Power
AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE 38th Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit; Indianapolis, IN; United States