Elec­tric Space Propul­sion Test Fa­cil­i­ty Göt­tin­gen – elec­tric thrusters (STG-ET)

Vacuum chamber
Vac­u­um cham­ber
Image 1/5, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

Vacuum chamber

View in­to the vac­u­um cham­ber show­ing the en­gine mount and beam di­ag­nos­tics.
Cryogenic pump
Cryo­genic pump
Image 2/5, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

Cryogenic pump

One of the cryo­genic pumps of the STG-ET. Dur­ing op­er­a­tion, this sur­face is cooled down to -250°C and thus main­tains the near vac­u­um by gas ad­sorp­tion.
Graphite plates
Graphite plates
Image 3/5, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

Graphite plates

To pro­tect against the fast ions, the cham­ber wall of the STG-ET is lined with graphite plates.
Vacuum chamber
Vac­u­um cham­ber
Image 4/5, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

Vacuum chamber

Open vac­u­um cham­ber at the STG-ET test fa­cil­i­ty.
Special low-temperature sensors
Spe­cial low-tem­per­a­ture sen­sors
Image 5/5, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

Special low-temperature sensors

The tem­per­a­tures of the cryo­genic pumps are record­ed with spe­cial low-tem­per­a­ture sen­sors. This im­age shows the ca­bling of such a mea­sure­ment site.

Electric space propulsion systems, which accelerate ions or plasmas to very high exhaust velocities, are becoming more common. The DLR Institute of Aerodynamics and Flow Technology in Göttingen is testing the thrust and fuel efficiency of these systems in its large-scale Electric Space Propulsion Test Facility (STG).

Very large vacuum chamber for thrusters

The testing of these kinds of innovative thrusters requires techniques that differ from those used with conventional chemical propulsion systems. For this reason, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) operates the STG-ET test facility, which is specially designed for electric thrusters. The core of this system is a vacuum chamber with a length of over 12 metres and a diameter of five metres. This makes the facility one of the largest of its kind in Europe.

The facility is used to test electric space propulsion systems. Depending on the test programme, it is possible to measure the thrust produced by a propulsion system or examine its plasma exhaust plume precisely using modern measuring technology. At the STG-ET facility, it is also possible to conduct the long-term tests that are also required for these types of thrusters.

In addition to investigations relating to the thrusters and their exhaust plumes, the facility enables analysis of the effects of the exhaust plumes on the surrounding environment and the spacecraft. Once the tests have been completed, the facility’s users and customers receive extensive data about the thrusters, allowing them to make improvements or achieve certification.

Contact
  • Volker Speelmann
    Head of Cen­tral Ex­pen­di­ture Man­age­ment
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    Telephone: +49 2203 601-4103
    Fax: +49 2203 601 4115
    Linder Höhe
    51147 Cologne
    Contact
  • Andreas Neumann
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    In­sti­tute of Aero­dy­nam­ics and Flow Tech­nol­o­gy
    Space­craft
    Telephone: +49 551 709 2622
    Bunsenstraße 10
    37073 Göttingen
    Contact

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