Encyclopedia Astronautica

Credit: NASA
American ion engine technology satellite. One launch, 1970.02.04. Electric ion engine tests.

AKA: Space Electric Rocket Test.
Gross mass: 1,404 kg (3,095 lb).
First Launch: 1970.02.04.
Number: 1 .

More... - Chronology...

Associated Countries
See also
  • Delta The Delta launch vehicle was America's longest-lived, most reliable, and lowest-cost space launch vehicle. Development began in 1955 and it continued in service in the 21st Century despite numerous candidate replacements. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Delta American orbital launch vehicle. The Delta launch vehicle was America's longest-lived, most reliable, and lowest-cost space launch vehicle. Delta began as Thor, a crash December 1955 program to produce an intermediate range ballistic missile using existing components, which flew thirteen months after go-ahead. Fifteen months after that, a space launch version flew, using an existing upper stage. The addition of solid rocket boosters allowed the Thor core and Able/Delta upper stages to be stretched. Costs were kept down by using first and second-stage rocket engines surplus to the Apollo program in the 1970's. Continuous introduction of new 'existing' technology over the years resulted in an incredible evolution - the payload into a geosynchronous transfer orbit increasing from 68 kg in 1962 to 3810 kg by 2002. Delta survived innumerable attempts to kill the program and replace it with 'more rationale' alternatives. By 2008 nearly 1,000 boosters had flown over a fifty-year career, and cancellation was again announced. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • NASA American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA, USA. More...

  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • JPL Mission and Spacecraft Library, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 1997. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report,
  • NASA Report, Development of The Sert I Spacecraft Summary Report, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Development and Flight History of SERT 2 Spacecraft, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Comparative in-flight thrust measurements of the SERT 2 ion thruster, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Thrust measurement of SERT I ion thrustors, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Results From SERT 1 Ion Rocket Flight Test, Web Address when accessed: here.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Vandenberg Vandenberg Air Force Base is located on the Central Coast of California about 240 km northwest of Los Angeles. It is used for launches of unmanned government and commercial satellites into polar orbit and intercontinental ballistic missile test launches toward the Kwajalein Atoll. More...
  • Vandenberg SLC2E Delta launch complex. Originally a Thor 75 SMS launch pad. Upgraded to a space launch complex in 1966. More...

SERT Chronology

1970 February 4 - . 02:59 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC2E. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thorad Agena D SLV-2G. LV Configuration: Thorad SLV-2G Agena D 534 (TA12) / Agena D.
  • SERT 2 - . Mass: 1,404 kg (3,095 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Cleveland. Class: Technology. Type: Ion engine technology satellite. Spacecraft: SERT. USAF Sat Cat: 4327 . COSPAR: 1970-009A. Apogee: 1,046 km (649 mi). Perigee: 1,039 km (645 mi). Inclination: 99.2000 deg. Period: 106.00 min. Space Electric Rocket Test; the ion engines aboard were operated until 1981. The SERT 2 development program started in 1966 and included thruster ground tests of 6742 hours and 5169 hours duration. A prototype version of the SERT 2 spacecraft was ground-tested for a period of 2400 hours with an operating ion engine. In addition to diagnostic equipment and related ion engine hardware, the spacecraft had two identical 15 cm diameter, mercury ion engines. Flight objectives included in-space operation for a period of 6 months, measurement of thrust, and demonstration of electromagnetic compatibility. The thruster maximum power level was 0.85 kW, and this provided operation at a 28 mN thrust level at 4200 s specific impulse. Flight data were obtained from 1970 to 1981 with an ion engine operating intermittently in one of three different modes, namely, HV ion extraction, discharge chamber operation only, or just neutralizer operation. Major results were that two mercury engines thrusted for periods of 3781 hours and 2011 hours. Test duration was limited due to shorts in the ion optical system. Thrust measured in space and on the ground agreed within the measurement uncertainties. Up to 300 thruster restarts were demonstrated. One power-processing unit accumulated nearly 17,900 hours during the course of the mission. Additionally, the ion propulsion system was electromagnetically compatible with all other spacecraft systems.

Home - Browse - Contact
© / Conditions for Use