NASA SBIR 2018-I Solicitation

Proposal Summary

 18-1- Z9.01-1039
 Small Launch Vehicle Technologies and Demonstrations
 Integrated Launch Vehicle Booster using a Rocket Engine with a Combined Thermodynamic Cycle
SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Frontier Astronautics
609 Windmill Road
Chugwater , WY 82210-0127
(307) 331-3043

Principal Investigator (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Timothy Bendel
609 Windmill Road Chugwater, WY 82210 - 0127
(307) 331-3043

Business Official (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Timothy Bendel
609 Windmill Road Chugwater, WY 82210 - 0127
(307) 331-3043
Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) :
Begin: 3
End: 5
Technical Abstract

The concept describes a booster for a launch vehicle that is simpler to make, transport and launch than current launch vehicles. 

It is composed of two major components. The first being a booster structure and the second being a liquid rocket engine that uses a thermodynamic cycle that is a combination of two common cycles.

Furthermore, the engine is actually fairly simple when compared to modern liquid rocket engines, thereby making it less expensive and having more inherently reliably.                                

The booster uses hydrogen peroxide and kerosene. This is a dense propellant combination that allows the booster to be made out of relatively inexpensive materials yet still have a high propellant mass fraction. This reduces cost.

The booster will use four fixed rocket engines (non-gimballing) that are angled slightly so that pitch, yaw and roll control can be achieved simply by throttling the engines differently. This eliminates the need for a gimbal mount, hydraulic actuators and related componets, flexible propellant feed lines and separate pressure tanks.

Furthermore, with the use of dense, non-cryogenic, hypergolic propellants like hydrogen peroxide, all cryogenic compatible components (which are expensive), insulation and the entire ignition system may be eliminated.

The engine combines a gas generator with an electric pump fed design. It switches from one cycle to the other at the optimum time of flight allowing better performance than an engine using only one of the cycles exclusively. It would use the gas generator mode for liftoff and early in the flight as it can provide high power output at the cost of less specific impulse efficiency. By switching to a closed electric cycle doing boost the engine can then provide higher specific impulse with less thrust, which is acceptable because the booster will have consumed much of its propellant and is lighter.

The combination of this booster and engine allows for a much simpler and reliable launch vehicle.

Potential NASA Applications

NASA could use this vehicle for rapid replenishment of failed satellites. Due to its use of non-toxic, non-cryogenic propellants it can stand by and be available to launch quickly. 

Since the system would be cheaper to operate many missions that currently cannot be justified could be possible. For example, sending inspector spacecraft to look at damaged operating satellites is currently not justifiable since building an entirely new spacecraft is more cost effective.

Potential Non-NASA Applications

For commercial operators it would both reduce cost and increase reliability. Due to its simplicity it could reduce wait times.

This means that many commercial endeavors, like nano-sats and constellation maintenance, would become potentially profitable. Current launch systems are just too expensive to make these business models work.

It also opens up the possibility of launching new spacecraft to inspect and/or remove dead spacecraft from orbit as an economically viable business model. 

Form Generated on 05/25/2018 12:03:13