NASA SBIR 2005 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Chemical Propulsion Systems and Modeling
PROPOSAL TITLE:Oxygen-Methane Thruster

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Orion Propulsion, Inc.
105 A-4 Commerce Circle
Madison, AL 35758-1863
(256) 461-8032

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Timothy L Pickens
105 A-4 Commerce Circle
Madison, AL  35758-1863
(256) 461-8032

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Two main innovations will be developed in the Phase II effort that are fundamentally associated with our gaseous oxygen/gaseous methane RCS thruster. The first innovation is that of an integrated torch igniter/injector which, provides simple and reliable ignition for the thruster. The second innovation is the thruster's capability to operate with both gaseous and liquid propellants. This innovation enables greater system flexibility that is inherent in the capacity to function over a much wider range of operating conditions.

Orion has been approached by several prospective customers concerning affordable, reusable thrusters. In the current commercial market, this does not exist and the commercial sector cannot afford traditional propulsion solutions. For this reason, Orion started developing a thruster that offers the following features:

? Provides an affordable solution as compared to what is currently available
? Uses a different manned approach since it is reusable
? Uses a modular design, which allows for the robust inspection and replacement of parts
? Uses green propellants and capitalizes on in situ propellant production
? Provides greater system flexibility since it operates with both liquid and gaseous propellants

Not only does the gas/gas operation of the thruster attract companies such as t/Space and Bigleow Aerospace, but its liquid/liquid operation broadens this customer base and makes this design applicable to NASA programs such as the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV).

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
NASA's ambitious Exploration Initiative will demand significant advancements in propulsion technology for both main and reaction control applications. Our oxygen/methane thruster will provide a significant advancement in the area of RCS technology. We see this thruster finding applications for a number of exploration missions such as RCS for trans-lunar system architectures, station-keeping, and Mars exploration programs which take advantage of in-situ propellant manufacturing. This thruster effort will demonstrate advances in multi-phase propellant operation, and improved overall reliability.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
While applications for NASA programs are manifold, the potential for Non-NASA applications appears to offer even greater potential. The rapid growth of the nascent commercial space sector will continue to expand in the coming decades. This industry can be even more demanding in terms of technological advancement, and for an even wider range of propulsion applications. Furthermore, the development schedule for commercial applications will be much shorter. For these reasons, we believe that the development of our oxygen/methane thruster will put us in a good position to meet the needs of the commercial sector. Example applications include RCS propulsion for commercial-off-the-shelf systems, already on the drawing boards, RCS for private space structures, such as Bigelow's Orbiting Space Structures, as discussed in foregoing section 7, as well as others that are just now being conceptualized.

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.


Form Printed on 07-25-06 17:04