CHEOPS first successful EP thruster coupling test for LEO applications

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We are glad to announce that we have had a first successful coupling test at Sitael premises in Pisa between a Bradford Flow Management System (FMS), a Safran Hall effect thruster and a Sitael hollow cathode! This electric propulsion system has been developed in the framework of CHEOPS project and with this coupling test its performance for LEO applications has been successfully demonstrated.

Image copyrights: Bradford 2019

Moreover, all the involved partners have achieved relevant developments:

  • Sitael’s HC3 is a state-of-the-art hollow cathode, developed in house to match the demanding requirements of large LEO constellations. It is capable of operating with 1/10 of the anode mass flow rate, of igniting with a short preheating time and of withstanding thousands of on/off cycles.
  • Safran’s PPS®X00 thruster is a compact and highly cost-efficient thruster designed to operate between 300 W and 1000 W of input power. The development was driven by time-to-market, design-to-cost, and specific requirements imposed by LEO missions.
  • Bradford’s LEO-FMS has been specifically developed to provide a low-cost solution for large constellations, and features a number of innovations in terms of system architecture and component selection. One of the innovations is the third generation Bradford pressure sensor: the Micro-PT.

Still within CHEOPS project, a novel Power Processing Unit prototype is being finalized by Sitael in these days and it will be coupled with the other units (Thruster, Cathode and FMS) early in 2020 to complete the LEO Electric Propulsion System.

Here below the thruster unit (PPS®X00 and HC3), fed with Xenon by the FMS is firing in Sitael’s IV4 vacuum chamber.

The CHEOPS project is a challenging space project that proposes to develop three different Hall Effect Thruster (HET) Electric Propulsion Systems (EPS), in order to serve different application fields or orbits: – a low power for Low Earth Orbit (LEO) applications; – a dual mode EPS for GEO/NAV applications; – a >20 kW high thrust EPS for exploration applications. CHEOPS project is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 730135.

Image copyrights: SITAEL 2019

 

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