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Heater Validation for the NEXT-C Hollow CathodesSwaged cathode heaters whose design was successfully demonstrated under a prior flight project are to be provided by the NASA Glenn Research Center for the NEXT-C ion thruster being fabricated by Aerojet Rocketdyne. Extensive requalification activities were performed to validate process controls that had to be re-established or revised because systemic changes prevented reuse of the past approaches. A development batch of heaters was successfully fabricated based on the new process controls. Acceptance and cyclic life testing of multiple discharge and neutralizer sized heaters extracted from the development batch was initiated in August, 2016, with the last heater completing testing in April, 2017. Cyclic life testing results substantially exceeded the NEXT-C thruster requirement as well as all past experience for GRC-fabricated units. The heaters demonstrated ultimate cyclic life capability of 19050 to 33500 cycles. A qualification batch of heaters is now being fabricated using the finalized process controls. A set of six heaters will be acceptance and cyclic tested to verify conformance to the behavior observed with the development heaters. The heaters for flight use will be then be provided to the contractor from the remainder of the qualification batch. This paper summarizes the fabrication process control activities and the acceptance and life testing of the development heater units.
Document ID
Document Type
Technical Memorandum (TM)
Verhey, Timothy R.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Soulas, George C.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Mackey, Jonathan A.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
March 19, 2018
Publication Date
February 1, 2018
Subject Category
Spacecraft Design, Testing And Performance
Spacecraft Propulsion And Power
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
International Electric Propulsion Conference(Atlanta, GA)
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 729200.
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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