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APPLICATIONS TECHNOLOGY SATELLITE 6 (ATS-6)

The purpose of the ATS-6 flight experiment was to demonstrate NSSK of a geosynchronous satellite using two electron bombardment ion engine systems with cesium propellant. Thruster development tests included a lifetest of 2614 hours and 471 cycles. Thruster input power was 0.15 kW which resulted in a thrust of 4.5 mN at a specific impulse of 2500 s. The ATS-6 was launched on May 30, 1974. One of the ion engines operated for about one hour and the other for 92 hours. Both of the engines failed to provide thrust on the restarts due to discharge- chamber cesium flooding. The feed system flooding problem caused overloading of the discharge and high- voltage power supplies. This failure mechanism was verified through a series of ground tests.

The IPS operation demonstrated an absence of EMI related to spacecraft systems, verified predictions of spacecraft potential with engines operating, and demonstrated compatibility with the S/C star tracker. It was found that the ion engines or just the neutralizer could discharge large negative spacecraft potentials at all times. Further, tests indicated that "differential charging was reduced by the neutralizer when operated in spot mode and eliminated by operation of the ion engine."

The preceding was an excerpt from:
Sovey, J. S., Rawlin, V. K., and Patterson, M. J.: "Ion Propulsion Development Projects in U. S.: Space Electric Rocket Test 1 to Deep Space 1." Journal of Propulsion and Power, Vol. 17, No. 3, May-June 2001, pp. 517-526.




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Last Updated: 04/21/2009 1:43 PM