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Performance Evaluation of the T6 Ion EngineThe T6 ion engine is a 22-cm diameter, 4.5-kW Kaufman-type ion thruster produced by QinetiQ, Ltd., and is baselined for the European Space Agency BepiColombo mission to Mercury and is being qualified under ESA sponsorship for the extended range AlphaBus communications satellite platform. The heritage of the T6 includes the T5 ion thruster now successfully operating on the ESA GOCE spacecraft. As a part of the T6 development program, an engineering model thruster was subjected to a suite of performance tests and plume diagnostics at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The engine was mounted on a thrust stand and operated over its nominal throttle range of 2.5 to 4.5 kW. In addition to the typical electrical and flow measurements, an E x B mass analyzer, scanning Faraday probe, thrust vector probe, and several near-field probes were utilized. Thrust, beam divergence, double ion content, and thrust vector movement were all measured at four separate throttle points. The engine performance agreed well with published data on this thruster. At full power the T6 produced 143 mN of thrust at a specific impulse of 4120 seconds and an efficiency of 64%; optimization of the neutralizer for lower flow rates increased the specific impulse to 4300 seconds and the efficiency to nearly 66%. Measured beam divergence was less than, and double ion content was greater than, the ring-cusp-design NSTAR thruster that has flown on NASA missions. The measured thrust vector offset depended slightly on throttle level and was found to increase with time as the thruster approached thermal equilibrium.
Document ID
20150008918
Document Type
Conference Paper
External Source(s)
Authors
Snyder, John Steven (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Goebel, Dan M. (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Hofer, Richard R. (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Polk, James E. (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Wallace, Neil C. (QinetiQ Ltd. Hampshire, United Kingdom)
Simpson, Huw (QinetiQ Ltd. Hampshire, United Kingdom)
Date Acquired
May 26, 2015
Publication Date
July 25, 2010
Subject Category
Spacecraft Design, Testing and Performance
Ground Support Systems and Facilities (Space)
Spacecraft Propulsion and Power
Meeting Information
AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference(Nashville, TN)
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Other