The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Exploration Initiative requires the reliable availability of electrical power, on the order of hundreds of kilowatts, for operating spacecraft electric ion engines, on-board instruments, and communications. Foil gas bearing performance in Helium-Xenon (He-Xe) gas mixtures at high ambient pressures is a critical issue in the design of these power conversion systems. The work describe herein is a combined experimental and analytic approach to predicting bearing power loss at these conditions. A high pressure test chamber is used to test generation III foil journal bearings up to 47 atmospheres (∼700 psig). Data is then calibrated to classic Taylor-Couette flow to determine an appropriate power loss model for these bearings.

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