Advanced Electric Propulsion System passes full-power test milestone
Aerojet Rocketdyne and NASA's Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS) thruster has passed a major milestone, completing its first full-power test. Designed to be used by NASA's Gateway lunar orbital outpost as well as manned and unmanned deep-space missions, the AEPS Hall thruster ran stably at power levels ranging from 4.2 kW to 12.5 kW at the space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
The AEPS will be a key component of the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) module of Gateway, where they will draw 25 kW from the roll-out solar array (ROSA) assembly, which is capable of generating up to 60 kW.
Each of the engines consists of a Xenon Hall thruster, a power processing unit for controlling the electrical power feed, and a Xenon flow controller to throttle the engine's thrust. Backed up by chemical monopropellant thrusters, they will act as the main propulsion and maneuvering system for Gateway. Using 5,000 kg (11,000 lb) of xenon as a propellant, the thrusters are designed to have a service life of 50,000 hours.
"Our AEPS thruster has demonstrated the high levels of power needed to operate the Power and Propulsion Element, and by extension, the entire Gateway," says Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake. "With a successful full-power test complete, Aerojet Rocketdyne is ready for the next phase of our advanced electric propulsion system in support of NASA’s Artemis program."
Two of the engines are set to be launched in 2022, with the first crewed mission to Gateway slated for 2024.
Source: Aerojet Rocketdyne