NASA STTR 2017 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 171 T2.01-9960
RESEARCH SUBTOPIC TITLE: Advanced Nuclear Propulsion
PROPOSAL TITLE: Superconducting Coils for Small Nuclear Fusion Rocket Engines

NAME: Princeton Satellite Systems NAME: Jaclyn Pursell
STREET: 6 Market Street, Suite 926 STREET: P.O. Box 451
CITY: Plainsboro CITY: Princeton
STATE/ZIP: NJ  08536 - 2096 STATE/ZIP: NJ  08543 - 0451
PHONE: (609) 275-9606 PHONE: (609) 243-3532

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Ms. Stephanie Thomas
6 Market Street, Suite 926
Plainsboro, NJ 08536 - 2096
(609) 275-9606

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Ms. Stephanie Thomas
6 Market Street, Suite 926
Plainsboro, NJ 08536 - 2096
(609) 275-9606

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 2
End: 3

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Advanced Nuclear Propulsion 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)
This proposal focuses on the superconducting coils subsystem, a critical subsystem for the PFRC reactor and Direct Fusion Drive and other fusion and electric propulsion technologies. Our goal will be to design space coils using the latest high temperature superconductors. The coils will be operated at medium temperature, between 20 and 30 K, which eases the cooling requirements and temperature margins compared to 4K low-temperature conductors. This also increases the critical currents providing more margin for neutron radiation damage, possibly reducing shielding. The coils will have highly efficient cooling systems, be low mass and require minimum structural mass. Bath cooling and conduit cooling will be compared. There is likely an optimum operating temperature which minimizes the mass of both the conductors, shielding, and cooling systems. Given the rapid advancement of HTS materials determining the feasibility of such an optimal coil design requires detailed research into the state-of-the-art. Our partner, PPPL, will provide expertise on coil specifications and magnet design. PPPL is the only institution in the world where active research on the physics and technology of small, steady-state fusion devices is being performed. PSS will manage the design process and study closed loop cooling issues. We will design a Phase II experiment to build one or more 2 Tesla coils and potentially integrate them into the existing plasma experiment at PPPL. Our example mission will be a Neptune orbiter which is on the NASA roadmap as a high priority mission and present a challenging on-orbit radiation environment.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
A small fusion engine such as Direct Fusion Drive would be useful for almost any deep space mission, as well as inner space missions such as Lagrange points or manned Mars missions. The superconducting coils have applications to scientific payloads as well as other advanced propulsion concepts. For example, the AMS-02 experiment for the ISS had a low-temperature superconducting coil option which was built and tested, but swapped out for a traditional magnet with a longer lifetime when the flight opportunity changed. The VASIMR electric thruster requires superconducting coils. There has been considerable research on using superconducting coils for radiation shielding and they may also be useful for space materials processing and and precision formation flying.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
There are many military and civil applications of the engine and the coils. Military space applications include high-power Earth satellites with radar, laser, or communications payloads. There are wider applications including generators for wind turbines, high efficiency motors, particle accelerators, energy storage, and terrestrial fusion reactors. This project would contribute greatly to this wider body of work.

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

Form Generated on 04-19-17 12:45