NASA STTR 2007 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 07-2 T2.02-9799
RESEARCH SUBTOPIC TITLE: Foundational Research for Aeronautics Experimental Capabilities
PROPOSAL TITLE: A Reusable, Oxidizer-Cooled, Hybrid Aerospike Rocket Motor for Flight Test

NAME: Rolling Hills Research Corporation NAME: Cal Poly Corporation
STREET: 420 N. Nash Street STREET: 1 Grand Ave., Bldg 38 Room 102
CITY: El Segundo CITY: San Luis Obispo
STATE/ZIP: CA  90245 - 2822 STATE/ZIP: CA  93407 - 0830
PHONE: (310) 640-8781 PHONE: (805) 756-1123

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
William R Murray

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 3 to 4

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
The proposed innovation is to use the refrigerant capabilities of nitrous oxide (N2O) to provide the cooling required for reusable operation of an aerospike nozzle in conjunction with an N2O-HTPB (hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene, a synthetic rubber that is used as a binder in solid rocket motors and as a fuel in hybrid rocket motors) hybrid rocket motor. The phase change cooling as liquid N2O is flashed into a vapor is crucial to limiting to acceptable levels the erosion of both the nozzle throat and spike, thereby enabling reusable operation and/or long burn times. The N2O used for cooling the nozzle throat will be reintroduced into the combustion chamber, and the N2O used for cooling the spike will be used to provide base bleed, virtually eliminating any performance penalty associated with using a severely truncated, and therefore significantly lighter, spike. Because of its high vapor pressure, N2O can be self-pumping, thereby making it an ideal choice of oxidizer for simple, low-cost applications. As a simple, practical nozzle, the proposed innovation fits well with N2O-HTPB hybrid rocket designs, which tend toward simpler, less expensive design alternatives. Because of their high efficiency due to altitude compensation, aerospike nozzles could play an important role in bringing to fruition inexpensive access to low Earth orbit. The simple, low-cost, reusable, oxidizer-cooled aerospike nozzle for operation on an N2O-HTPB hybrid rocket motor that is proposed will enable much-needed flight research of aerospike nozzles. These oxidizer-cooled altitude-compensating nozzles promise significant improvements in propulsion efficiency for a wide range of space vehicles and tactical missiles.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
An oxidizer-cooled hybrid aerospike nozzle has significant NASA applications. The increased efficiency of both the oxidizer-cooled design and altitude-compensating effects of the aerospike configuration will make the proposed system very attractive to NASA projects seeking increased efficiency in a lower cost package. Whether for launch vehicles, sounding rockets, or tactical missions, the proposed technology offers significant advantages over more traditional bell nozzle designs. In the near term, the technology could provide added safety and improved capability to the NASA Dryden Aerospike Rocket Test project, as well as economic benefits through the reuse of nozzles. The technology would also be appropriate for future NASA single-stage-to-orbit programs.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The development of a cooled, truncated aerospike nozzle with an N2O-HTPB hybrid rocket motor will allow cost effective, reusable, and less expensive rocket designs. There are two major non-NASA customer groups for this technology: the U.S. military, and the numerous companies working to develop inexpensive low Earth orbit (LEO) launch vehicles. These include Lockheed-Martin, Microcosm, AirLaunch, Orbital Sciences, and SpaceX. In addition to launching satellites into LEO, there has been increasing interest in developing space tourism in recent years. Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic have teamed up to develop SpaceShipTwo specifically to pursue the space tourism market. Likewise, Benson Space Company is developing the Dream ChaserTM, which is a 4-passenger suborbital or 6-passenger orbital vehicle, both of which are based on NASA's HL-20 Personnel Launch System. Both versions of the Dream ChaserTM vehicle will use a hybrid rocket motor, an internal hybrid for the smaller vehicle or an internal hybrid plus an external hybrid booster for the larger vehicle. The increased efficiency and altitude-compensating properties of the proposed oxidizer-cooled aerospike nozzles will be extremely attractive to both the military and commercial launch providers.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.

Fundamental Propulsion Physics
Launch and Flight Vehicle
Simulation Modeling Environment
Structural Modeling and Tools
Testing Facilities

Form Generated on 02-10-09 12:09