The Plasma Contactor Unit (PCU) was developed by the Rocketdyne division of The Boeing Company to control charging of the International Space Station (ISS). Each PCU contains a Hollow Cathode Assembly (HCA), which emits the charge control electrons. The HCAs were designed and fabricated at NASA s Glenn Research Center (GRC). GRC's HCA development program included manufacture of engineering, qualification, and flight model HCAs as well as qualification and wear tests. GRC tracks the on-orbit data for the flight HCAs in order to ascertain their overall health. As of April 5, 2004, 43 ignitions and over 6000 hours have been accumulated on a single unit. The flight HCAs continue to operate flawlessly. This paper will discuss the operation of the HCAs during ground tests and on-orbit operation from initial startup to April 30, 2004.
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