Lifetime Assessment of the NEXT Ion Thruster
- VanNoord, Jonathan L.
- November 2010.
- Physical Description:
- 1 electronic document
- Restrictions on Access:
- Unclassified, Unlimited, Publicly available.
- Ion thrusters are low thrust, high specific impulse devices with required operational lifetimes on the order of 10,000 to 100,000 hr. The NEXT ion thruster is the latest generation of ion thrusters under development. The NEXT ion thruster currently has a qualification level propellant throughput requirement of 450 kg of xenon, which corresponds to roughly 22,000 hr of operation at the highest throttling point. Currently, a NEXT engineering model ion thruster with prototype model ion optics is undergoing a long duration test to determine wear characteristics and establish propellant throughput capability. The NEXT thruster includes many improvements over previous generations of ion thrusters, but two of its component improvements have a larger effect on thruster lifetime. These include the ion optics with tighter tolerances, a masked region and better gap control, and the discharge cathode keeper material change to graphite. Data from the NEXT 2000 hr wear test, the NEXT long duration test, and further analysis is used to determine the expected lifetime of the NEXT ion thruster. This paper will review the predictions for all of the anticipated failure mechanisms. The mechanisms will include wear of the ion optics and cathode s orifice plate and keeper from the plasma, depletion of low work function material in each cathode s insert, and spalling of material in the discharge chamber leading to arcing. Based on the analysis of the NEXT ion thruster, the first failure mode for operation above a specific impulse of 2000 sec is expected to be the structural failure of the ion optics at 750 kg of propellant throughput, 1.7 times the qualification requirement. An assessment based on mission analyses for operation below a specific impulse of 2000 sec indicates that the NEXT thruster is capable of double the propellant throughput required by these missions.
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 20110000530.
AIAA Paper 2007-5274.
43rd Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit; 8-11 Jul. 2007; Cincinnati, OH; United States.
- No Copyright.
View MARC record | catkey: 15993048