Associated with this facility is a customized 50 kW Miller power supply with an open circuit voltage of 80 V. A capacitive filter has been added to reduce the ripple factor to a maximum of 0.5%. A 35 V - 600 A Rapid power supply is used to control the magnetic field generated by solenoids in testing MPD thrusters. A high voltage power supply independent of the main power supply is used for ignition of steady-state thrusters.
Keithley boxes and a personal computer are configured to control and monitor the operation of this facility.
The SSMPD facility has been used to characterize the performance of low-power (10-50 kW) steady-state MPD thrusters, and various problems that are best studied in that regime of operation. In particular, the SSLP has been previously associated with studies of energy partitioning in low-power MPD thrusters, ionization mechanisms in MPD flows, instabilities and turbulence in low-power thrusters, and most recently low work function dispenser cathodes. In the last experiment, the facility has been augmented with the capabilities of liquifying and dispensing lithium to feed MPD thrusters.