NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation

FORM B - PROPOSAL SUMMARY


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 04 X6.05-8152
SUBTOPIC TITLE: In-Space Propulsion (Chemical/Thermal)
PROPOSAL TITLE: SOLID STATE MEMS THRUSTERS USING ELECTRICALLY CONTROLLED EXTINGUISHABLE SOLID PROPELLANT

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
ET Materials,LLC
3239 Monier Circle ,Suite #4
Rancho Cordova, CA 95742-6833
(916)631-6310

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Charles GRIX
etmaterials@sbcglobal.net
3239 Monier Circle ,Suite #4
Rancho Cordova, CA 95742-6833
(916)631-6310

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)
ET Materials, LLC developed the first ever electrically controlled extinguishable solid propellant (ECESP). The original propellant developed under Air Force SBIR contracts became know as ASPEN. The start/stop capabilities were first demonstrated in end burning configurations that operated by feeding the propellant against stationary electrodes. Continuing research by ET Materials led to a new family of ECESP propellants prepared as solution solid propellants. These propellants provided higher performance than the ASPEN, but are more electrically conductive. This feature was not as desirable as first thought because the electrode gap has to be much narrower to cause the propellant to ignite at the surface, which makes it more difficult to scale for larger motors. The high conductance of the propellant makes it ideal for a MEMS application as the propellant can be cast in thin layers. Since the propellant will only sustain combustion when electrical power is supplied stacked layers of the propellant could be ignited separately without causing ignition of neighboring layer. This provides more versatility than similar MEMS designs utilizing conventional solid propellants. In the Phase I study "micro cluster thrusters" will be fabricated and tested under vacuum conditions to establish the power and controller requirements.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 100 WORDS)
NASA would be able to implement this technology for any of their missions utilizing small spacecraft for forming satellite or spacecraft constellations. The small size and simplicity would allow their use in the extended boons of an atypical spacecraft. The technology, also, is very attractive for larger satellites requiring refueling such as DARPA's Orbital Express Program.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 100 WORDS)
The electrode design proposed in this program is very compatible with standard semiconductor (layered) manufacturing. Thus, microactuators operating from on demand gas generation could lead to a new class of pneumatically powered nano-robotic devices.