NASA SBIR 2017 Solicitation
FORM B - PROPOSAL SUMMARY
|PROPOSAL NUMBER:||171 S4.03-8399|
|SUBTOPIC TITLE:||Spacecraft Technology for Sample Return Missions|
|PROPOSAL TITLE:||Advanced Ignition System for Hybrid Rockets for Sample Return Missions|
SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
12173 Montague Street
Pacoima, CA 91331 - 2210
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Arthur J. Fortini
Pacoima, CA 91331 - 2210
(818) 899-0236 Extension :118
CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Craig N. Ward
Pacoima, CA 91331 - 2210
(818) 899-0236 Extension :127
Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
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)
To return a sample from the surface of Mars or any of the larger moons in the solar system will require a propulsion system with a comparatively large delta-V capability due to the magnitude of the gravity well. Consequently, significant propellant mass will be required. While it is technically feasible to generate O2 and CO propellants by electrolysis of CO2 from the Martian atmosphere, it will only work on bodies where there is significant CO2 in the atmosphere, and the mass of the required infrastructure (electrolyzer, batteries, solar panels) is significant. A recent study has shown that bringing the propellant from Earth is a mass-competitive option. In particular, a hybrid rocket with multi-start capability trades more favorably than either a CO2 electrolysis system or a bipropellant system where the propellants are generated on Earth. Using a high-performance hybrid propellant combination and being able to restart the hybrid rocket are the keys. In previous and ongoing work, Ultramet has demonstrated that electrically heated open-cell silicon carbide foam can be used as an igniter for both monopropellant and bipropellant rocket engines. Due to its low mass and favorable electrical characteristics, the foam can be heated to 1300?C in just two seconds, which enables it to quickly ignite any propellant flowing through it. In this project, the technology will be applied to hybrid rocket engines to give them multi-start capability. A portion of the liquid oxidizer stream (typically oxygen or nitrogen tetroxide) will pass through the foam and be heated such that the high temperature gas leaving the foam will be sufficiently hot to cause spontaneous ignition on contact with the fuel (typically paraffin). Once the engine is ignited, power to the foam heater can be turned off. Ultramet will design, test, and characterize electrically powered foam heaters and perform ignition testing with paraffin fuel grains.
POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
This technology will initially be targeted at hybrid rockets, and the near-term application will be hybrid rockets for a Mars sample return mission. More generally, foam-based heaters that are amenable to use at high temperatures in highly oxidizing environments can be used as igniters for virtually any non-hypergolic propellant combination. These include O2/CO, LOX/CH4, LOX/ethanol, and LOX/RP-1 among others. They can also be used to ignite hydrazine, as well as ionic liquid monopropellants such as LMP-103S and the E, Q, and A blends of AF-M315. This makes the technology applicable to engines of virtually any thrust class, from large booster engines to small attitude control engines. Specific missions of interest to NASA include ascent/descent engines for missions to Mars, the Moon, other planetary moons, and asteroids.
POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
This technology can be used for igniting non-hypergolic bipropellants, ionic liquid monopropellants, and hydrazine in main and attitude control engines on commercial and military spacecraft, as well as main and reaction control engines on commercial and military boosters. Other aerospace applications include ignition systems and catalyst preheaters for aeropropulsion turbine engines and air heaters for hypersonic wind tunnels similar to the Aerodynamic and Propulsion Test Unit at Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC). Non-aerospace applications include ignition systems and catalyst heaters for turbine engines used for terrestrial power generation, and gas and water heaters where high efficiency is critical.
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.)
Spacecraft Main Engine