Aerojet Rocketdyne managed to conduct successfully hot fire test on a Power Processing Unit (PPU).
According to official statement given by Aerojet Rocketdyne on July, 6, it was in fact series of test performed at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. According to Julie Van Kleeck, vice president of advanced space and launch programs and strategy at Aerojet Rocketdyne subsystems were working properly and tests were finished with success:
“The PPU successfully demonstrated stable operation of the propulsion system and responded appropriately to all of our planned contingency scenarios,”
Power Processing Unit was designed as part of the Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS) considered as potential support for NASA’s plans for deep space missions. Aerojet and NASA are cooperating to develop new electric propulsion which could combine low fuel consumption and decent thrust.
Aerojet Rocketdyne was awarded with contract for further development of electric propulsion in April 2016. Under worth $65 million contract Company will deliver to NASA five 12.5 kW Hall thruster subsystems with thrusters, PPUs and xenon flow controllers. Each Hall thruster will be able to deliver doubled thrust of present XR-5 thruster, most powerful electric propulsion system manufactured by Aerojet and work for 23000 hours.
NASA considers electric propulsion as future for deep space missions including missions to Mars. Still presently available thrusters are not able to provide thrust necessary for large vehicles, but are successfully utilized as Apogee Kick Motor in many commercial satellites.