North Country Composites (NCC) is teaming with Lancer Systems to modify Lancer’s commercial ceramic matrix composite (CMC) manufacturing methods to produce affordable very high performance rocket engine components. The components would operate in highly oxidative and corrosive environments to temperatures up to 3600oF for long durations (many hours) and 4600oF for shorter durations. This will occur without the use of expensive coatings. Through the utilization of low cost ISO 9001 controlled manufacturing methods, affordable, high performance components can rapidly be transitioned for commercial use. In addition, NCC will utilize 3D reinforcement of the fiber preforms to significantly increase (3X) interlaminar strength properties with only a mild decrease in plane properties.
The high strength, light weight and high temperature capabilities of these structures will significantly increase the performance of rocket engines by increasing the thrust to weight, operational temperatures, and pay-load capabilities.
The purpose of the Phase I program is to demonstrate the feasibility producing ultra-high temperature (UHT) CMCs for use as chambers and nozzle extensions in liquid rocket engines. During Phase I the NCC team will produce a nozzle extension for hot fire test in LOx/Methane. In addition we will produce thermo-mechanical test specimens with optimized interlaminar strength properties. After high temperature, oxidative exposure, they will present strength retention of greater than 85%.
In the Phase II program we will work with engine suppliers to perform the technical maturation work for a specific engine system nozzle extension that will result in use of the NCC components in Phase III and other programs. As a result of developing a significantly cost and time reduced UHT-CMC manufacturing process, NASA and other customers will garner the performance increases for rocket propulsion and other advanced vehicle applications.
Human Exploration & Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) would benefit by utilizing the technology in spacecraft and launch vehicles to provide improved performance and to enable advanced missions with reusability, increased damage tolerance and durability. Potential NASA users of this technology exist for a variety of propulsion systems, including:
The CMC technology would be enhancing to systems already in use or under development and enabling for missions that necessitate improved high temperature composite technology. The Air Force is interested in such technology for its Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle, ballistic missile, and hypersonic vehicle programs. Other non-NASA users include Navy, Army, and the Missile Defense Agency.