NASA 1996 SBIR Phase I


PROPOSAL NUMBER : 96-1 14.07-5000

PROJECT TITLE : Miniature Resistive Regression and Ablation Sensor (MIRRAS)

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)

The study and development of solid propellant rocket motors and hybrid engines often requires the accurate determination of regression rate of the burning or ablating surface. No fully satisfactory method has yet been devised to provide regression rate data in real time. This proposal suggests the development of a new type of miniature sensor to serve as a real-time regression rate measurement device. The sensor is embedded in a fuel grain of a hybrid engine, or in the ablative liner of a thrust chamber, or in the propellant grain of a solid propellant rocket motor, and gives an electrical output proportional to the instantaneous thickness of the material under study. Early approximations and laboratory testing indicate that a resolution of up to 0.01 in. may be obtained with the monitoring of just one electrical signal. The MIRRAS sensor will reduce the cost and development time of rocket engine components and fuels by decreasing the number of required firings and increasing the quality of test data. The Phase I effort will prove the feasibility of the concept through the design, construction, and development testing of the sensor, including the measurement of the instantaneous regression rate in a hybrid rocket engine.
POTENTIAL COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS
The Miniature Resistive Regression & Ablation Sensor will provide NASA, DOD, universities, and industry with a new low-cost technology that will greatly reduce the development cost and time for hybrid engines, solid propellants, and rocket nozzles. The small size of the sensor will allow it to be used on board commercial rocket engines to serve as a feedback signal to give tighter control and health monitoring of the vehicle. The sensor is expected to find wide commercial application outside of the aerospace industry in the development of new material applications, processes, and products as a health monitoring and wear measurement tool.
NAME AND ADDRESS OF PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR
Mr. William H. Knuth
Orbital Technologies Corporation (ORBITECTM)
Space Center, 1212 Fourier Drive
Madison, WI 53717
NAME AND ADDRESS OF OFFEROR
Orbital Technologies Corporation (ORBITECTM)
Space Center, 1212 Fourier Drive
Madison, WI 53717