Thermal calculation of the SPT-50 stationary plasma thruster

Aeronautical and Space-Rocket Engineering

Thermal engines, electric propulsion and power plants for flying vehicles


Chubov P. N.1*, Saevets P. A.1**, Rumyantsev А. V.2***

1. Experimental Design Bureau “Fakel”, 181, Moskovsky av, Kaliningrad, 236001, Russia
2. Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University, IKBFU, 14, A. Nevskogo str., Kaliningrad, 236041, Russia



Development of the SPT-50 thermal model, thermal calculations and study of the model sensitivity to changes and to various combinations of internal and external heat exchange parameters was carried out with account for the requirements of the Thermica software applications package (SAP) based on employing of isothermal elements method. The thermal model under development consists of 130 elements. The radiation couplings for the SPT-50 anode unit's thermal model were computed employing Thermica V4 SAP. To obtain the information on the thruster thermal state during thermal vacuum tests (TVT) it was equipped with temperature detectors, installed on the thruster in places with enough access to the surfaces for contact welding, glue and other ways of mounting. The SPT's thermal balance thermal vacuum and thermal cycling tests were performed. The thermal model correction with the testing results was realized by thermal calculations employing the developed thermal model. The calculations did not account for convective heat exchange (imitation of vacuum). The ambient temperature was set the same as the during testing, and SPT's optical and heat emission properties were set according to the operating mode during TVT.

The developed thruster thermal model, updated by testing results tests, allows analyze thermal processes inside the thruster in the places where installation of thermocouples is impossible. After the SPT-50 thermal model correction one can define the critical design elements, thermally affected by the thruster. Based on the thermal calculation results, the element of wire with critical temperature level has been defined, and this value approached maximum temperature value of 220°C. To decrease the wire temperature, we increase the wire core section area to enhance the heat sink from the wires critical element. The calculations revealed that the temperature of the SPT's critical elements does not exceed maximum admissible working temperature. It confirms correctness of the approaches to selection of thermal design and parameters of the thermal regulation system of the SPT-50 anode unit. The presented thermal model of the SPT-50 anode unit can be employed for developing other options of thermal and mounting interfaces for other discharge and magnetic thruster operating parameters.


stationary plasma thruster, thermal model, software applications package Thermica, thermal calculation, thermal-vacuum tests


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