The University of Michigan
Department of Aerospace Engineering
| Plasmadynamics & Electric Propulsion Laboratory |
Plasma Diagnostics

Old Thrust Stand

Figure 1. Schematic of PEPL's original inverted pendulum thrust stand.

Figure 2. Photograph of PEPL's original inverted pendulum thrust stand (with actively cooled shroud removed).

With the original thrust stand, thruster performance measurements are made with an inverted pendulum type thrust stand based on the NASA LeRC/GRC design, the industry standard. The thruster is mounted to an aluminum plate that is connected to the core of a Lucas Schaevitz model 100-HR Linear Variable Differential Transformer (LVDT). The core resides within a LVDT coil that is mounted to the base of the thrust stand. Thus, the thrust stand measures the displacement of the aluminum plate due to engine thrust. The output from the LVDT is routed to a Lucas Schaevitz DTR-451 Digital Transducer Readout (DTR) and to the data acquisition system. Thruster/thrust-stand leveling is performed manually before chamber pump-down so that the LVDT core is in its null position within the coil. A remotely controlled stepper motor driven pulley system is employed to provide in-situ thrust stand calibration by loading and off-loading small weights to simulate thrust. A linear curve-fit of LVDT displacement vs. thrust is then obtained and used for performance measurements. Soon after the thruster is turned off, a post-test calibration is performed. The springs of the stand are made with extra stiffness to minimize thruster deflection, thus allowing plume measurements to be made concurrently with performance measurements.

Thrust data, based on the predetermined curve fit, are displayed and simultaneously stored on the hard disk by the DAQ system. The DAQ system also reads mass flow rate, current, and voltage, enabling it to calculate thrust efficiency and specific impulse in real-time.

New Thrust Stand

The new thrust stand is the NASA GRC null-type inverted pendulum thrust stand for high-power thrusters/clusters. This thrust stand is a duplicate of the stand used to test the NASA 457 50 kW Hall Thruster (see ref. 2).

Figure 3. Photographs of PEPL's newer thrust stand (assembled in 2004).


Selected Relevant Publications

  1. Haag, T. W., "Thrust Stand for High-Power Electric Propulsion," Review of Scientific Instruments, Vol. 62, No. 5, pp. 1186-1191, January 1991.
  2. Jankovsky, R. S., Jacobson, D., Manzella, D. H, "50 kW Class Krypton Hall Thruster Performance," AIAA-2003-4550, 39th Joint Propulsion Conference, Huntsville, AL, July 20-23, 2003.
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