Electric propulsion test facilities

Electric propulsion test facilities

The dedicated electric propulsion test facility at Lampoldshausen has been designed to efficiently run Electric Propulsion thruster acceptance and qualification tests including performance, thermal vacuum and beam diagnostic tests.

The vacuum facility is a chamber with an inner diameter of 3 m and a length of 6 m (Figure 1).

The main chamber is equipped with multiple pumps which achieve a measured effective pumping speed of more than 120000 litres per second. In this way even, high mass flow thrusters can be operated without exceeding a pressure of 3∙10-5 mbar. The base pressure (without any insertion of gas) of the vacuum facility is < 6.67·10-7 mbar. The vacuum quality is continuously controlled and recorded by a redundant set of pressure gauges.

A water-cooled target, which is able to dissipate an ion beam power up to 5 kW at room temperature, is installed inside the vacuum chamber.

To reduce sputter contamination, the whole target has been covered with graphite tiles in cobweb shape, a material with a very low sputter yield (Figure 2).

Vacuum chamber

Figure 1: Vacuum chamber ArianeGroup LAM

Target vacuum facility

Figure 2: Target vacuum facility ArianeGroup LAM

The distance between beam target and thruster is > 4 m.

For monitoring the vacuum, the test facility is equipped with several vacuum gauges located at different positions to register the background pressure inside the different chamber regions. One is located near to the thruster to obtain the pressure relevant for the thruster behaviour and secondary effects on the diagnostics. A second one is installed near the target.

Learn more about electric propulsion systems and components.

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