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Mission cost for gridded ion engines using alternative propellants

Mission cost for gridded ion engines using alternative propellants
Mission cost for gridded ion engines using alternative propellants
Xenon is the preferred propellant for electric propulsion thrusters, providing
high thruster efficiency and long life. However, xenon is very expensive and has limited availability, which could impose serious constraints on the use of electric propulsion in some future missions. This report investigates the effect on mission cost of operating a gridded ion engine on either xenon, krypton or a 1:4 Xe/Kr mixture. Calculations of payload fraction, propellant mass, thrusting time, propellant cost, and propellant-related mission cost have been performed over a range of mission Δvs (1-5 km/s) using two different approaches: fixing the thrust, which leads to increase required power over xenon, and fixing the power available for the electric propulsion system, which leads to loss in thrust.
The former approach results in significant improvements for propellant cost, but either no substantial advantages can be obtained on the overall mission cost or the cost reduction can be achieved only at higher velocity increments, which are not relevant for typical mission Δvs. The latter approach produces a relatively small (within 10% over xenon) cost reduction but at a cost of increased thrusting times. If the "New Space" approach (mega constellations) is considered, which implies a sensible reduction in the hardware cost, the outcome of the analysis is completely different and alternative propellants become advantageous over xenon for the considered Δv range (1-5 km/s).
Gridded Ion Engine, Alternative Propellants, Xenon, Krypton, Mission Analysis
Fazio, Nazareno
16e21134-c70e-462a-ab8e-2882b154e89f
Gabriel, Stephen
ac76976d-74fd-40a0-808d-c9f68a38f259
Golosnoy, Igor O.
40603f91-7488-49ea-830f-24dd930573d1
Wollenhaupt, Birk
3d525c5b-fb2e-42b0-9744-e64d7161c42c
Fazio, Nazareno
16e21134-c70e-462a-ab8e-2882b154e89f
Gabriel, Stephen
ac76976d-74fd-40a0-808d-c9f68a38f259
Golosnoy, Igor O.
40603f91-7488-49ea-830f-24dd930573d1
Wollenhaupt, Birk
3d525c5b-fb2e-42b0-9744-e64d7161c42c

Fazio, Nazareno, Gabriel, Stephen, Golosnoy, Igor O. and Wollenhaupt, Birk (2019) Mission cost for gridded ion engines using alternative propellants. 36th International Electric Propulsion Conference: IEPC, University of Vienna, Austria. 15 - 20 Sep 2019. 21 pp .

Record type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Abstract

Xenon is the preferred propellant for electric propulsion thrusters, providing
high thruster efficiency and long life. However, xenon is very expensive and has limited availability, which could impose serious constraints on the use of electric propulsion in some future missions. This report investigates the effect on mission cost of operating a gridded ion engine on either xenon, krypton or a 1:4 Xe/Kr mixture. Calculations of payload fraction, propellant mass, thrusting time, propellant cost, and propellant-related mission cost have been performed over a range of mission Δvs (1-5 km/s) using two different approaches: fixing the thrust, which leads to increase required power over xenon, and fixing the power available for the electric propulsion system, which leads to loss in thrust.
The former approach results in significant improvements for propellant cost, but either no substantial advantages can be obtained on the overall mission cost or the cost reduction can be achieved only at higher velocity increments, which are not relevant for typical mission Δvs. The latter approach produces a relatively small (within 10% over xenon) cost reduction but at a cost of increased thrusting times. If the "New Space" approach (mega constellations) is considered, which implies a sensible reduction in the hardware cost, the outcome of the analysis is completely different and alternative propellants become advantageous over xenon for the considered Δv range (1-5 km/s).

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IEPC-2019-831_Mission Cost for Gridded Ion Engines using Alternative Propellants - Version of Record
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More information

Published date: 17 September 2019
Venue - Dates: 36th International Electric Propulsion Conference: IEPC, University of Vienna, Austria, 2019-09-15 - 2019-09-20
Keywords: Gridded Ion Engine, Alternative Propellants, Xenon, Krypton, Mission Analysis

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 434549
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/434549
PURE UUID: 5b567700-b357-438c-bad4-265494953088

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Date deposited: 01 Oct 2019 16:30
Last modified: 14 May 2020 16:36

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Contributors

Author: Nazareno Fazio
Author: Stephen Gabriel
Author: Igor O. Golosnoy
Author: Birk Wollenhaupt

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