NASA SBIR 2012 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 12-1 S4.03-8615
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Spacecraft Technology for Sample Return Missions
PROPOSAL TITLE: Solid Rocket Motor for Ultralow Temperature Operation During the Mars Sample Return Mission

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Analytical Services, Inc. (ASI)
350 Voyager Way
Huntsville, AL 35806 - 3200
(256) 562-2100

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Joseph Sims
350 Voyager Way
Huntsville, AL 35806 - 3200
(256) 562-2191

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Sandra Fossett
350 Voyager Way
Huntsville, AL 35806 - 3200
(256) 562-2165

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 1
End: 5

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Spacecraft Technology for Sample Return Missions is a Technology Available (TAV) subtopic that includes NASA Intellectual Property (IP). Do you plan to use the NASA IP under the award?

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
A small Mars (or other celestial body) ascent vehicle is unlikely to achieve the necessary propellant fraction required to achieve orbit. Scaling down of liquid propulsion systems, as shown in the figure, is difficult. In the 100-kg class of vehicles, liquid propellant vehicle designers should expect a propellant fraction of only 0.75. In contrast, solid rocket motors (SRM) scale down much easier, so designers should expect a propellant fraction of at least 0.92. To be practical, however, the SRM must operate in extreme low temperature environments, which is difficult for state of the art polybutadiene binders. ASI proposes to develop a new, low temperature binder based upon siloxane. Siloxane polymers have glass transition temperatures below 150K, making them ideal for use on Mars with little or no external heaters required. A siloxane binder SRM-based MAV will easily achieve the propellant fraction needed for a sample return mission.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Our primary technology insertion opportunity within NASA is the Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission. The Mars climate enforces a uniquely stressing environment that every propulsion system must deal with. However, we are also aware that NASA is focusing upon spacecraft and lander missions to asteroids and other near-earth bodies that will require operating at extreme low temperatures approaching -270�C—a scant 3�C above absolute zero—that will test the limits of every known material. From a propulsion system perspective, such missions demand, to an even greater extent than MSR, the kind of performance siloxane binders appear to offer. We are not aware of any polymer with a glass transition temperature near the liquid temperature of helium, so these missions will require electric heaters for the motor. Siloxane binders would reduce the power requirements for such spacecraft.

Other potential NASA uses will be in the Space Launch System (SLS) program, perhaps used as ullage settling motors (USM), tower jettison motors, or even crew escape system motors. We are aware, of course, that motor designs currently exist (and have been tested) for these uses, but there may come a time when the additional structural margin at low launch temperatures is needed. Siloxane binders can fill that need.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Tactical missiles and rockets are generally required to operate between -65�F and +160�F, a temperature range often referred to as the tactical temperature limits. However, there are several systems in the field today that are restricted to minimum operable temperatures well above the lower tactical limit because grain structural margins are not adequate at -65�F. This is a direct result of a mismatch in coefficient of thermal expansion between propellant and case, as well as from the high glass transition temperature (Tg) of HTPB. The propellant stiffness goes up dramatically as Tg is approached, which has an undesirable effect on the allowable stresses and strains in the grain. A siloxane-based composite formulation, with its significantly lower Tg, could ease those low temperature firing limitations. Additionally, the hydrophobic nature of siloxane polymers may also have a positive benefit to motor service life, since hydrolytic scission of the binder—a major component of composite propellant aging—will no longer be possible.

Ballistic parachute deployment is a commercial market in which a motor that uses the proposed binder would serve well. It is also a market with which we already have an association. In the spring of 2007, ASI was approached by Ballistic Recovery Systems for help in scaling their current deployment motor. We will re-engage that company during execution of this Phase I to determine whether the new binder system would fit their needs.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (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.)
Atmospheric Propulsion
Entry, Descent, & Landing (see also Planetary Navigation, Tracking, & Telemetry)
Launch Engine/Booster
Space Transportation & Safety
Spacecraft Design, Construction, Testing, & Performance (see also Engineering; Testing & Evaluation)
Surface Propulsion

Form Generated on 03-28-13 15:21