Essay on Micro Propulsion Attitude Control System Testing

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Each Micro Propulsion Attitude Control System (MPACS) tube underwent testing prior to assembly and launch. The first tests for MPACS occurred on 10 and 13 May 2004. These tests involve firing each tube and documenting how many pulses are observed. However, there are no details to exactly which PPT was fired, so from this point in the analysis, the most conservative (longest) duration will be assumed to be for the PPT that shorted on 2 Nov 07 (PPT Cluster 2, Tube 2). Additionally, since there are no time records available, a frequency of 1 Hz will be assumed. This comes from long term testing on different tubes that showed a variation of frequency, with 1 Hz being the lower range.
On 10 May, the maximum number of pulses was 40. Assuming the conservative estimate of 1 Hz firing, this gives 40 seconds. Using the same logic, the maximum of 60 pulses on 13 May adds another 60 seconds. In total, all the documentation from the USAFA clean room shows a maximum time of 100 seconds.
The next series of tests occurred at Kirtland AFB, NM on 17-26 April 2006. This included the Hot Bake Out and Hot Start test and the Cold Soak and Cold Start test three times each for a total of 6 tests. The procedures called for firing each tube only 5 times, however the actual results varied. The total duration of these six tests was 120 seconds at most.
The last series of test occurred on 6 June 2006. This test involved testing MPACS in a cold environment (0 deg C). The documentation was much better with this test, having 12 pulses specifically counted for the tube of interest. However, there are no remarks as to a second part of the test in which one of the +X MPACS (Cluster 2) fired for an additional 42 pulses. Assuming this was tube 2, the maximum ...

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...FS-3, a long duration test will be continuing in testing MPACS functionality. This test will most likely involve a tube away from the payloads (plasma sensors) to keep charging minimal. The tube will also be in a direction that will give the best attitude demonstration capabilities, so it most likely will be in –X Tube 1 or 3. The best attitude demonstration with a gravity gradient boom deployed is about the yaw direction. These times do not include the conservative pre-launch estimate of 240 seconds each, so four minutes can be added for the most conservative total firing.

The success of MPACS payload is dependent on the further evaluation of the potential of the tubes in flight characteristics. More time of firing in addition to an extended control torque test will present a result which may prove the functionality and applicability of the payload.

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