Aerojet Rocketdyne and NASA’s Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS) thruster has completed its first full-power test.
The engines are designed to be used by NASA’s Gateway lunar orbital outpost and the upcoming 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 Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.Each of the engines consists of a three part system that contains the 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.
The engines will be using 11,000 lb of xenon as a propellant and the thrusters are designed to have a service life of 50,000 hours.
Two of the engines are due to be launched in 2022, with the first crewed mission to Gateway slated for 2024.