The SMART-1 Electric Propulsion Subsystem In Flight Experience
Publication date: 12 July 2004
Authors: Koppel, C.R., et al.
AIAA-2004-3435: Presented at the 40th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 11-14 July 2004
Onboard the ESA SMART-1 spacecraft, (Small Mission for Advanced Research in Technology), the primary Electric Propulsion Subsystem (EPS) operates since the 30th September 2003. EPS Contractor, ESTEC, and EPS manufacturer, SNECMA MOTEURS, present in detail the major performances of the complete electric propulsion system, with a comparison to the ground tests results. The PPS®-1350-G Hall Effect plasma Thruster and its Power processing unit, developed in the frame of the CNES Stentor Program, was tested at Snecma facilities. The main feature of the Smart-1 system is its variable power supply. Integrated into the whole spacecraft the electric propulsion system was tested at ESTEC before the in-flight first firing after the successful Ariane V launch. Results of these main tests demonstrate a good prediction of the in flight EPS behavior including the robust bang-bang xenon pressure regulation for the input pressure and variable electrical power supply. This paper describes the performance results of the PPS®-1350-G firing in space environment. It discusses also the consequences of the Van Allen radiation belt crossing during the first flight phase, particularly the behavior of the floating potential of the thruster with respect to the satellite electrical ground. The initial successful results obtained supports the first technological experience objective of the SMART-1 mission. These new features of primary electric propulsion subsystem and especially the low-power start-up and variable power features can be also a significant added value for any commercial application using electric propulsion for station-keeping and/or orbit transfer.Link to publication