Accession Number:

ADA106023

Title:

The Cyclic Life-Test of a T5 Ion Thruster Hollow Cathode to 4200 Hours.

Descriptive Note:

Technical rept.,

Corporate Author:

ROYAL AIRCRAFT ESTABLISHMENT FARNBOROUGH (ENGLAND)

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:

1981-05-01

Pagination or Media Count:

43.0

Abstract:

This report describes an experiment in which a hollow cathode, of the type used in the discharge chamber of the T5 ion thruster, was subjected to a rigorous cyclic life-test. The steady-state discharge conditions were representative of those found in thruster operation, but the thermal stresses imposed during discharge initiation were deliberately selected to be much more severe than normal. The cathode behaved faultlessly for 4200 hours, which included 1343 cycles the test was terminated when evidence appeared of a leaking cathode tip-to-body weld. Post-test examination showed that the latter was due to oxidation of the weld by residual oxygen in the test facility. It was not a cathode fault. Otherwise the cathode was in excellent condition, and an evaluation of the amount of barium remaining in its dispenser suggested that a much longer lifetime, perhaps 15000 hours, should be quite feasible. The design is thus suitable for all envisaged north-south station-keeping mission of geostationary spacecraft. Author

Subject Categories:

  • Electric and Ion Propulsion
  • Unmanned Spacecraft

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE