Accession Number:

ADA409834

Title:

Preliminary Analysis of Contamination Measurements from the ESEX 26 kW Ammonia Arcjet Flight Experiment

Descriptive Note:

Technical rept.

Corporate Author:

AIR FORCE RESEARCH LAB EDWARDS AFB CA PROPULSION DIRECTORATE WEST

Report Date:

1999-10-14

Pagination or Media Count:

23.0

Abstract:

The United States Air Force Research Laboratorys Electric Propulsion Space Experiment ESEX was launched and operated in early 1999 in order to demonstrate the compatibility and readiness of a 30-kW class ammonia arcjet for satellite propulsion applications. As part of this flight, an array of on-board contamination sensors was used to assess the effect of the arcjet and other environments on the spacecraft. The sensors consisted of microbalances to measure material deposition, radiometers to assess material degradation due to thermal radiation, and solar cell segments to investigate solar array degradation. Over eight firings of the ESEX arcjet and 33 min. 26 sec operating time, the following preliminary results are reported. The microbalances show no measurable deposition from the arcjet, in agreement with predictions. The radiometer near the thruster, viewing the arcjet plume and body, experiences a change in the thermal properties of its coating from the firings. Radiometers with no view of the arcjet, or a view of only the plume, show no change. During firings, the solar cell segments, near the thruster, show decreasing open-circuit voltage probably attributable to an additional electrical load provided by the plume plasma. The solar cells also exhibit a 3 decrease in non-firing, solar-illuminated over the eight arcjet firings, attributable to decreased solar transmission of the cover glass. However, no effects associated with the arcjet are observed on the spacecraft solar arrays. These data are in good agreement with model predictions, where available. In general, contamination effects are observed only on sensors near the thruster exhaust nozzle, a location unlikely to be used in an operational high-power electric propulsion system. No contamination effects are observed in the backplane of the thruster.

Subject Categories:

  • Electric and Ion Propulsion
  • Astronautics

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE