The 6,500-H Life Test Results of 30 cm Diameter Ion Thruster

Sun Mingming, Hai Geng, Yi Zheng


The life test of the 30 cm diameter ion thruster developed by the Lanzhou institute of physics began in Apr. 2018 and ended in Jan. 2020, lasting 6,500 h. This paper introduces the results of the 6,500-h life test of the 30 cm diameter ion thruster completed on the ground, including the ground facility for life test, the variations of the thrusters working performance, the times of the breakdown and power restart, and the erosion of the key components. The results show that the performance parameters, such as thrust, specific impulse and efficiency, do not change obviously during the test and magnetic field of the discharge chamber has no change. With the increase of test time, breakdown times increased significantly, whereas the power restart time decreased correspondingly. The diameter of the cathode orifice decreases gradually and there is a blockage risk of orifice. However, the diameter of the keeper orifice increases and presents an inverted cone erosion pattern. The diameter of the decelerator grid aperture expanded from 1.6 to 1.8 mm from 0 to 1,000 h and slightly enlarged after that. The aperture diameter of the accelerator grid presented linear enlargement but the pits-and-grooves erosion is obvious.


Thruster; Life test; Performance; Erision; Grid gap

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