The German Aerospace Center DLR operates micropropulsion test facilities in Göttingen. Besides the vacuum chambers for chemical and cold gas thrusters DLR extended its activities to electric propulsion and built the facility STG-ET.
Electric space propulsion engines have been used in the past and in current missions (e.g. ESA’s Smart1 or NASA’s Dawn). These engines are gaining more interest especially in the sector of future missions requesting very low thrust coupled with very accurate thrust level control.
STG-ET is a dedicated electric space propulsion test facility with a vacuum chamber that measures more than 12m in length and 5m in diameter. Besides engine tests the focus is on plume interaction with spacecraft components and on long-term testing.
chematic of the STG-ET vacuum chamber
This facility is available for users from research organisations and industry. Features are: