NASA SBIR 2017 Solicitation
FORM B - PROPOSAL SUMMARY
|PROPOSAL NUMBER:||171 Z9.01-9204|
|SUBTOPIC TITLE:||Small Launch Vehicle Technologies and Demonstrations|
|PROPOSAL TITLE:||Flight Demonstration of a Micropump-based Stage Pressurization System|
SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Vector Launch Inc.
824 E. 16th Street
Tucson, AZ 85719 - 6603
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
10539 Humbolt St.
Los Alamitos, CA 90720 - 5401
CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
824 E. 16th Street
Tucson, AZ 85719 - 6603
(888) 346-7778 Extension :27
Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Small Launch Vehicle Technologies and Demonstrations 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)
Vector Launch, Inc. proposes to apply recent advances in micropump and additive manufacturing technologies to develop and demonstrate a micropump-based autogenous pressurization system for its commercial Vector-R first stage and mature the technology with multiple static-fire-tests leading to a demonstration flight test (TRL 6). The Vector-R is a 2-stage pressure-fed, LOX/subcooled propylene commercial small launch vehicle, designed to place up to 60 kg in low earth orbit. In the proposed concept, electrically-driven micropumps drive a small portion of each propellant over a heat exchanger at the engine to pressurize the tanks. Excess flow can be diverted to the engine as needed.
This approach reduces system mass, complexity and acquisition cost as well as operational costs. It eliminates the need for all high-pressure tanks and associated components. It can be used on any pressure-fed stage, for launch vehicle and in-space application when using high vapor pressure propellants such as LOX/methane or LOX/propane. As such, it is an enabler for missions targeted to use in-situ propellants since the need for a separate pressurant like helium is either greatly reduced or eliminated.
By leveraging Vector's ongoing Vector-R micro-launcher development, it is possible to reach TRL 6 with demonstration flight testing during Phase II.
POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The technology offers the means of drastically reducing the mass, complexity and cost of pressure-fed propulsion stages employing high vapor pressure propellants like LOX, methane, propylene and propane. The reductions in costs apply to both acquisition and operational costs of propulsive stages since the proposed system is simpler and lighter.
Applications include small launch vehicle stages where turbo-pumps are inefficient and cost-prohibitive. For Vector, the immediate application of the technology which could benefit NASA is the Vector-R launch vehicle. This vehicle is designed to provide dedicated launch services to nanosats up to 60 kg, with planned operations starting in 2018. Candidate small spacecraft which could benefit from dedicated launch services or reduced launch costs provided by the technology include numerous CubeSats and nanosats in development at NASA or funded by NASA, such as NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative and Educational Launch of Nanosatellites.
Other longer term potential applications include future missions to Mars and other bodies which use pressure-fed systems, whether directly or in conjunction with pump-fed engines. For Mars ascent, this technology is particularly attractive when using in-situ propellants since it eliminates the need for a pressurant like helium. The application of this technology for Mars missions is likely to be years away.
POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
With the Vector-R micro-launcher, Vector is positioning itself to provide responsive, dedicated launch to the micro- and nanosat market expected to burgeon in the next few years. Candidate small spacecraft which could benefit from dedicated services or reduced launch costs provided by the technology include commercial entities operating constellations, such Planets (formerly known as Planet Labs) and Google's Terra Bella (formerly known as Skybox Imaging), as well as numerous other CubeSats and nanosats development efforts funded NSF, the Air Force, ORS and SMDC. Aggregators such as Spaceflight Industries would also benefit of the availability of dedicated, responsive launch for their numerous customers, particularly those targeting specific orbits or mission timelines.
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