The proposed configuration offers significant system-level advantages in planetary landers and/or reusable second stage applications. The engine uses a novel rocket nozzle geometry that has not been previously considered, and which is the focus of this Phase I effort. The nozzle achieves high area ratio gas expansion within a form factor ten times shorter than traditional bell nozzles, while also accommodating deep throttle operation in the presence of atmospheric pressure. The reduced form factor alleviates the plume-surface interaction by increasing the clearance between the base of a lander vehicle and the target surface, or for equivalent ground clearance, the nozzle decreases the size and mass of the requisite landing gear. When strategically integrated into the vehicle base, the engine nozzle serves as an actively cooled metallic heat shield during atmospheric entry maneuvers. The same surface creates a robust barrier, protecting the rest of the vehicle from surface ejecta during terminal descent on unprepared landing sites such as on the Moon or Mars. Phase I completes at TRL 3 by leveraging existing experimental data, developing the nozzle design methodology, generating nozzle performance predictions, and producing hardware for future parametric testing. If this project proceeds to Phase II it will focus on breadboard testing at NASA MSFC’s Nozzle Test Facility to anchor analytical results in preparation for follow-on commercialization, completing at TRL 5.
-Reusable second stages of launch vehicles
-RCS for spacecraft and satellites
-OMS for spacecraft and satellites
-Compact missile systems