Vacuum Chamber

The PRC Large Vacuum Test Facility (LVTF) consists of a 4 m (13 ft) long and1.8 m (6 ft) diameter cylindrical stainless clad chamber. It is evacuated by a .55 m (22 in) oil diffusion pump and a rotary vane mechanical pump. The LVTF has a combined pumping speed of 140 l/s (300 cfm) of air and can maintain a base pressure down to 10-6 Torr. An 8 cm (3.1 in) ion beam source system has been installed in the chamber and is fully operational. The ion beam source with two carbon-carbon grid ion optics can provide 50-1500eV energy and up to 4mA/cm2 current density ion beam. We have a 6 kW microwave source coupled to a thruster by means of a waveguide for plasma research. The plasma generator operated with a variety of gaseous propellants.

The advanced propulsion laboratory is also well-equipped with diagnostic equipment to support our advanced plasma thruster concepts and plasmadynamics studies. A complete set of electrostatic probes, an ultraviolet (UV) vacuum spectrometer, a SPEX 1-m double spectrometer, a mass spectrometer, and a goniometer are available for use on research projects. Using this equipment, we can determine species concentration, temperature, pressure, and conductivity of the exhaust plumes. A Spectra-Physics Nd: YAG laser and a Princeton Instruments ICCD camera with related optics and computer for data requisition are also currently in use for diagnostic work.

The LVTF has also been used to simulate high altitude atmosphere conditions for UAV vehicles and low orbit space conditions for small scale air-breathing and classical chemical propulsion applications.

The following test articles have been operated in the Vacuum Chamber:

  1. An ion beam source with two carbon-carbon grid ion optics can provide 50-1500eV energy and up to 4mA/cm2 current density ion beam. We have a 6 kW microwave source coupled to a thruster by means of a waveguide for plasma research. The plasma generator operated with a variety of gaseous propellants.
  2. A small gas-gas space thruster has been evacuated for ignition and vacuum performance.
  3. The LVTF has also been used to simulate high altitude atmosphere conditions for UAV vehicles and low orbit space conditions for small scale air-breathing and classical chemical propulsion applications.

For More Information Contact Dr. David Lineberry or Mr. Tony Hall.

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