Title of Presentation: NEXT Ion Propulsion System Development Status and Capabilities
Primary (Corresponding) Author: Michael J. Patterson
Organization of Primary Author:
Co-Authors: Scott Benson
The NEXT thruster and other component technologies represent a significant advancement in technology beyond state-of-the-art NSTAR thruster systems. NEXT performance exceeds single or multiple NSTAR thrusters over most of the thruster input power range. Higher efficiency and specific impulse, and lower specific mass reduce the wet propulsion system mass and parts count. The NEXT thruster xenon propellant throughout is more than twice NSTAR’s, so fewer thrusters are needed. The NEXT power processor and propellant feed system technologies provide mass and performance benefits versus NSTAR.
As NASA’s Evolutionary Xenon Thruster technology program draws to its conclusion, it is advantageous to review the existing technology capabilities of the system under development. This includes the thruster performance and throttling capabilities, the thruster lifetime, and the subsystem and system masses and power budgets. This paper describes the NEXT ion propulsion system development status, characteristics and performance. A review of mission analyses results conducted to date using the NEXT system is also provided.