Xenon/Krypton Facility

The Xenon/Krypton facility is a 2-meter-diameter by 4-meter-long space simulation chamber for ground-testing flight-scale ion propulsion systems.  The chamber is evacuated to ultimate pressure using two 48-inch diameter liquid nitrogen-assisted liquid helium cryogenic vacuum pumps.  The vacuum facility is capable of testing thrusters up to 2 kW.

With the cryopumps the chamber can achieve a vacuum better than 1E-6 Torr (equivalent to 0.000000001 atmosphere or comparable to the space shuttle environment) and remove propellant gas emitted by the thruster at a speed of 120,000 L/s. The facility also utilizes a mechanical vacuum pump to back the cryopump.

The facility is equipped with a NASA-Glenn-style inverted pendulum thrust measurement stand, a dedicated gaseous mass flow control system for propellant supply, cooling water, power supplies and a comprehensive computer controlled data acquisition system. With the available diagnostics, thruster parameters such as thrust, specific impulse, electrical efficiency, and discharge oscillation can be readily measured.

In order to study the plasma flowfield and plume structure emitted from thrusters, a remotely controlled diagnostic manipulation system is fully contained within the vacuum chamber. The system is capable of 1-m by 1.5-m linear translation on two axes as well as rotation for motion control of assets during testing.

The existing laboratory instrumentation is available to the Condensable Propellant Facility as well.

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