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The Application of Advanced Electric Propulsion on the NASA Power and Propulsion Element (PPE)NASA is charged with landing the first American woman and next American man on the South Pole of the Moon by 2024. To meet this challenge, NASA's Gateway will develop and deploy critical infrastructure required for operations on the lunar surface and that enables a sustained presence on and around the moon. NASA's Power and Propulsion Element (PPE), the first planned element of NASA's cis-lunar Gateway, leverages prior and ongoing NASA and U.S. industry investments in high-power, long-life solar electric propulsion technology investments. NASA awarded a PPE contract to Maxar Technologies to demonstrate a 2,500 kg xenon capacity, 50 kW-class SEP spacecraft that meets Gateway's needs, aligns with industry's heritage spacecraft buses, and allows extensibility for NASA's Mars exploration goals. Maxar's PPE concept design, is based directly on their high heritage, modular, highly reliable 1300-series bus architecture. The electric propulsion system features two 13 kW Advanced Electric Propulsion (AEPS) strings from Aerojet Rocketdyne and a Maxar-developed system comprised of four Busek 6 kW Hall-effect thrusters mounted in pairs on large range of motion pointing arms with four 6 kW-class, SPT-140-based PPUs. NASA is continuing to develop the 13 kW AEPS system through a contract with Aerojet Rocketdyne. In addition to the flight demonstration of an advanced electric propulsion system on PPE, a government-furnished plasma diagnostics package is planned to assess on-orbit performance characteristics and vehicle interactions. The paper will present overviews of NASA's Gateway and the PPE Project, the Maxar ion propulsion subsystem, the status of the two electric propulsion system developments, and the implementation of the plasma diagnostics package on the Maxar PPE spacecraft. The project is currently heading into SRR, with the propulsion build scheduled for 2021, and launch in 2022.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Glenn Research Center
Document Type
Herman, Daniel A.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Gray, Timothy
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Johnson, Ian
(Maxar Technologies Palo Alto, CA, United States)
Kerl, Taylor
(Maxar Technologies Palo Alto, CA, United States)
Lee, Ty
(Maxar Technologies Palo Alto, CA, United States)
Silva, Tina
(Maxar Technologies Palo Alto, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
October 17, 2019
Publication Date
September 15, 2019
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion And Power
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: International Electric Propulsion Conference
Location: Vienna
Country: Austria
Start Date: September 15, 2019
End Date: September 20, 2019
Sponsors: FOTEC Forschungs- und Technologietransfer GmbH
Funding Number(s)
WBS: 837933.
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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