[Via Satellite 07-06-2015] Aerojet Rocketdyne has completed initial on-orbit validation testing of its improved XR‑5 Hall thruster, designated XR‑5A, on the unmanned X‑37 space plane, which is presently on its fourth mission in space. The second-generation thruster sustains the majority of the design and flight heritage from the original XR‑5, with only minimal modifications. The only two changes to the thruster are the outer pole extending around the cathode, and a modification of the cathode position. The enhanced version is augmented to improve performance and operating range.
Aerojet Rocketdyne has manufactured and delivered 16 XR‑5 Hall thrusters and flown 12 to date. The company has received orders for 64 flight thrusters, and is introducing a product upgrade to incorporate improvements identified after the initial low-rate production and flight programs.
The Air Force Research Laboratory, Space and Missile Systems Center, and Rapid Capabilities Office collaborated to host the XR‑5A Hall thruster experiment on Orbital Test Vehicle mission 4.
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