NASA SBIR 02-1 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER:02- S1.02-7918 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 024081 )
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Deep Space Propulsion
PROPOSAL TITLE: LOX Olefin Rocket Propulsion for Deep Space

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Pioneer Astronautics
11111 W. 8th Ave., Unit A
Lakewood , CO   80215 - 5516
(303 ) 984 - 9653

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
K. Mark Caviezel
11111 W. 8th Ave., Unit A
Lakewood , CO   80215 - 5516
(303 ) 980 - 0890

The LOX Olefin engine (LOXO or LOX/LC2H4 or LOX/LC3H6) is a proposed technology designed to provide interplanetary spacecraft with high specific impulse, space storable propulsion. With the LOXO engine, the combination of liquid oxygen with sub-cooled liquid ethylene or liquid propylene as a rocket propellant enables development of compact lightweight high performance stages with isothermal common bulkhead propellant tanks. This could enable energetic deep space delta-V maneuvers. Currently, space missions requiring energetic delta V maneuvers weeks or months after launch are limited to use of moderate Isp conventional stored hypergolic propellants, typically achieving performance of 310-320 seconds. The much more energetic LOX/LH2 combination has the decided disadvantage of low density, and is not considered suitable for long term storage in space because of thermal management issues with the extremely cold (~20K) LH2. The LOXO propulsion system represents an important midway step that combines the advantages and avoids the major flaws of both of these extremes. Theoretical Isp for this propellant combination over 390 seconds has been calculated using AFALS chemical equilibrium code. With an achievable in-space thermal management system, LOXO is a good candidate for deep space propulsion, with performance greatly surpassing current options for mission planners.

Although primarily conceived of as an enabling technology for governmentally sponsored deep space exploration missions, LOXO space propulsion would have many other applications as well. A high specific impulse space storable stage would find many customers among commercial, military, and scientific satellites who would value it as a very cost-effective alternative to the current choices of low performance toxic hypergols or hard cryogenic LOX/H2 propulsion. Commercial applications would include the delivery of large geostationary and medium altitude satellites into orbit, apogee kick, and also for high efficiency re-assignment maneuvers and end of life superboosting for geostationary satellites. The LOXO could be used for onboard spacecraft propulsion or for dedicated upper and transfer stages supporting every type of mission.

LOXO could have applications to interplanetary NASA spacecraft that require large delta-V maneuvers well into deep space by providing high Isp storable fuels. Such fuels could allow faster transit times to the outer planets by avoiding gravity-assist flybys of inner planets or allow larger payloads.

Form Printed on 09-05-02 10:10