The objective of the activity is to develop, manufacture and test a cathode for use as a neutraliser in electric propulsion systemsand suitable for operation in an oxygen-rich environment for a long duration of time (e.g. >5 years).Targeted Improvements:Enabling cathode capable of operating in an oxygen-rich environment for more than a few hours.Description: Platforms operating in Very Low Earth Orbit (VLEO) require prolonged and/or continuous use of Electric Propulsion (EP) to counter the atmospheric drag over a very long period of time (>several thousand hours). During this time EP elements will be exposed to an oxygen-rich environment and oxygen could even be used as a propellant. High-efficiency electric propulsion systems typically use an electron emitter, or cathode, to neutralise the flux of positive ions generated and accelerated by the thruster. Current state-of-the-art cathodes are very sensitive to oxygen exposure due to rapid oxidation of the emitter material. Operation in VLEO requires the cathode element to be redesigned to sustain a constant exposure to atomic oxygen during its operation.This activity will develop and manufacture a breadboard of an electron-emitter cathode that can act as a neutraliser in a thruster fed with an oxygen-rich working gas. The goal is to achieve extraction efficiency above 95%, less than 250W input power, and an erosion rate sufficiently low to ensure operation for several thousands of hours. The breadboard performance will be tested, and short-duration endurance tests will be carried out. An erosion modelwill be developed and used to predict and confirm the lifetime of the cathode.Procurement Policy: C(1) = Activity restricted to non-prime contractors (incl. SMEs). For additional information please go to:…

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