The DLR-Institute of Aerodynamics and Flow Technology performs a lifetime qualification test of ArianeGroup’s radio frequency gridded ion thruster RIT2x in the electric propulsion test facility of DLR Göttingen. DLR is partner in this project since 2017 with the test facility, diagnostics development and supply, and facility operation. Being a long-term test the thruster has to be operated 24h over seven days, in order to accumulate several thousand hours of operation. Such a long runtime period is due to the long operating time of the propulsion system in space. An ion engine has to fire for a long time to fulfill a required mission because of its small thrust. That’s why a long lifetime must be confirmed in advance as realistically as possible under full load on ground.
Additionally, DLR delivers diagnostic measurements in the ion beam and performs material erosion evaluation.