NASA SBIR 2007 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 07-2 X9.03-8678
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Cryogenic and Non-Toxic Storable Propellant Space Engines
PROPOSAL TITLE: Acoustic Igniter

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Orion Propulsion, Inc.
105 A-4 Commerce Circle
Madison, AL 35758 - 2637
(256) 461-8032

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Tim Pickens
1525 Perimeter Parkway, Suite 250
Huntsville, AL 35806 - 3581
(256) 327-7610

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 6 to 7

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
An acoustic igniter eliminates the need to use electrical energy to drive spark systems to initiate combustion in liquid-propellant rockets. It does not involve the use of catalysts (which have a limited life), it does not exhibit typical wear and tear as seen in spark and catalytic igniters, and it is simple in design with no moving parts. Orion's proposed Acoustic Igniter is expected to offer a long-life, highly reliable ignition system that does not require high-voltage electrical connections. It is less complex to operate and simpler than a traditional ignition system. Orion's primary technical objective is to produce an acoustic igniter design that will ignite combustion of common liquid rocket fuel and oxidizer combinations such as gaseous oxygen and kerosene, and oxygen/methane. During Phase 1, we analyzed the operational issues that inhibit acoustic igniter performance. Based on these results, Orion will built a prototype unit, tested it, and evaluated its performance. This work established a basis for the follow-on Phase 2 effort to refine the design and upgrade the technology level of the acoustic igniter.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The acoustic igniter system described in this proposal provides a simple and effective for the ignition of propellants in small thrusters. There are few moving parts and the system is very light. Traditional systems involving sparkers and electronic exciters are complicated and heavy. The use of this physical phenomenon provides an alternative which could be ideal for very small spacecraft in the future. In addition, this system could be utilized as the propulsion system for a small spacecraft by itself. Such an approach has applications for both NASA as well as the Department of Defense for spacecraft related to Operationally Responsive Space.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
This system could be utilized in the commercial space sector in the small-sat or nano-sat arena. The simplicity, low weight and low cost are ideal for these commercial applications. In our program we intend to test the system in conjunction with a commercial thruster program which we are involved in to demonstrate this application

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.

Feed System Components
Fundamental Propulsion Physics
Micro Thrusters

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