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Thrust measurement and thrust balance development at DLR’s electric propulsion test facility

Neumann, Andreas and Simon, Jens and Schmidt, Jens (2021) Thrust measurement and thrust balance development at DLR’s electric propulsion test facility. EPJ Techniques and Instrumentation, 8 (17), pp. 1-19. Springer Nature. doi: 10.1140/epjti/s40485-021-00074-7. ISSN 2195-7045.

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Official URL: https://epjtechniquesandinstrumentation.springeropen.com/articles/10.1140/epjti/s40485-021-00074-7


Electric space propulsion thrusters only produce low thrust forces. For the fulfillment of a space mission this implies long thruster runtimes, and this entails long qualification times on ground. For such long testing times, a ground facility requires a vacuum chamber and a powerful pumping system which can guarantee high vacuum over extended times and under thruster gas load. DLR’s STG-ET is such a ground test facility. It has a high pumping capability for the noble gases typically used as propellants. One basic diagnostic tool is a thrust measurement device, among various other diagnostic systems required for electric propulsion testing, e.g. beam diagnostics. At DLR we operate a thrust balance developed by the company AST with a thrust measurement range of 250 mN and capable of thruster weights up to 40 kg. Adversely, it is a bulky and heavy device and all upgrades and qualification work needs to be done in a large vacuum chamber. In order to have a smaller device at hand a second thrust stand is under development at DLR. The idea is to have a light and compact balance that could also be placed in one of the smaller DLR vacuum chambers. Furthermore, the calibration is more robust and the whole device is equipped with a watercooled housing. First tests are promising and showed a resolution well below 1 mN. In this paper we give background information about the chamber, describe the basics of thrust measurement and the development of a new balance.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/146329/
Document Type:Article
Title:Thrust measurement and thrust balance development at DLR’s electric propulsion test facility
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iDORCID Put Code
Neumann, AndreasDLR Göttingenhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-6049-8969UNSPECIFIED
Schmidt, JensUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-2052-8588UNSPECIFIED
Date:23 November 2021
Journal or Publication Title:EPJ Techniques and Instrumentation
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:Yes
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Page Range:pp. 1-19
EditorsEmailEditor's ORCID iDORCID Put Code
Publisher:Springer Nature
Series Name:EPJ Techniques and Instrumentation
Keywords:Electric space propulsion; Vacuum chamber; Test facility; Thrust balance
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Space Transportation
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R RP - Space Transportation
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Reusable Space Systems and Propulsion Technology
Location: Göttingen
Institutes and Institutions:Institute for Aerodynamics and Flow Technology > Spacecraft, GO
Deposited By: Neumann, Andreas
Deposited On:09 Dec 2021 14:02
Last Modified:28 Nov 2023 07:38

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