Qualification and acceptance testing

Testing approach

Apollo Fusion and suppliers will complete qualification and acceptance testing in line with ESA, MIL, and ISO standards. Test order, test procedures, and test levels are subject to customer agreements. Standard test procedures and quality assurance plans are well defined and available for review, including:

  • Qualification test standards (ESA, MIL, ISO)
  • Thruster qualification test flow
  • Propellant management qualification test flow
  • PPU qualification test flow
  • Acceptance test standards (ESA, MIL, ISO)
  • Thruster acceptance test flow
  • Propellant management acceptance test flow
  • PPU acceptance test flow

Acceptance testing at high volumes

Apollo Fusion has taken a number of steps to increase its acceptance testing throughput to meet the needs of its customers.

  • Apollo Fusion has doubled the lab space available for acceptance testing by leasing another lab building at the same location
  • Apollo has installed a new, much larger vacuum chamber for qualification and acceptance testing
  • There are a total of 4 chambers currently available for acceptance testing: 3 R&D vacuum chambers and 1 Acceptance Testing chamber
  • It takes approximately 6 months to purchase, deliver, install, and commission a new vacuum chamber

Environmental testing

Apollo Fusion uses a local, accredited test house for environmental (thermal cycling and vibration) testing. The test house is accredited to ISO/IEC 17025:2005 and International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) standards. The test house facilities allow us to complete environmental acceptance testing on approximately 60 flight-sets per month. Additional vendors are available locally for specialized testing and to increase capacity. Apollo typically works with customers to identify the appropriate level of environmental testing.

Example 2000 g shock test is shown below.

Apollo's Electric Propulsion R&D lab is designed for speed

Apollo team members are domain experts in propulsion lab design and construction, with a total of 8 labs – a majority of the electric propulsion labs in the US – either built or rebuilt by individuals on our team. By combining deep expertise with large capital investments and pragmatic engineering choices, Apollo created an R&D lab with capabilities unlike any other.

Chamber Length Application Advantage
Mr. Fusion 0.3 meter PPU, component testing Small size
Ms. Fusion 1 meter Propellant R&D Testing speed
T3 1 meter Thruster R&D Testing speed
Ursula 3 meters Qualification and lifetime testing +/- 60° C

minimal chamber effects
Hey-Zeus 4 meters Acceptance testing High volume

minimal chamber effects

What sets our lab apart is speed. Research labs and competitor labs typically take days or weeks to perform an experiment. In contrast, Apollo's R&D lab has the capacity for hundreds of tests per week and rapid design iteration between tests. This is why ACE has evolved so quickly. We've been able to test a new generation of hardware with significant improvements every few weeks.

Advanced propellant research

Safety, performance, reliability, plume impingement, and deposition characteristics are mission critical success criteria for all candidate propellants. In the search for the ideal propellant, Apollo's engineers have tested 15 different options, from standards like Krypton and Xenon to a range of more exotic options. Years of experience and our comprehensive propellant test program give us great confidence in the suitability of our recommended propellant for customer missions.

Tested by The Aerospace Corporation

The Aerospace Corporation, a federally funded research and development center tested our thruster at the power levels between 260 W and 500 W with Xenon. In this power range the thrust varied from 15 to 29 mN, system Isp varied from 952 to 1407 seconds, and efficiency from 28% to 41%.

Designed to meet range safety and transportation requirements

The Apollo team has consulted with domain experts and worked with the US Department of Transportation, other federal agencies, and with multiple range safety teams from many US and international launch sites to ensure a smooth shipping process leading to your launch.