NASA SBIR SUCCESS STORY Glenn Research Center 
1985 Phase II

High Temperature Oxidation-Resistant Thruster Materials


Pacoima, CA

Application of material and processing science to permit liquid propellant rocket engines to operate 600°C hotter: iridium-lined rhenium chambers fabricated by chemical vapor deposition (CVD)
Flight Engine
Flight Engine
    • Advanced the state-of-the-art in materials and processes for the fabrication of liquid bipropellant chemical rocket thrust chambers, permitting a 3-5% increase in productivity (e.g. life and performance)
    • Flight qualified and successfully flown in space on dozens of commercial and government satellites
    • Operates at higher temperature with less fuel-film cooling; hence a 10-20 second increase in specific impulse over state-of-the-art niobium chambers, resulting in lower fuel consumption
    • NASA, Aerojet, TRW, Lockheed Martin, Hughes, Loral, Kaiser Marquardt, and Ultramet have invested nearly $25M to develop this technology
    • Production orders for chambers received from numerous satellite manufacturers totaling $8.8 million in sales
    • Received $568K in Phase III funding from the On-Board Propulsion Branch at NASA Glenn
    • Through increased thruster performance, communications satellite owners/operators realize $30-60M in added revenue per satellite
    • Currently being used as Apogee kick and station-keeping thrusters for satellites in geostationary orbit and thrusters for spacecraft propulsion systems
    • Potential additional applications include rocket nozzles, turbomachinery and aircraft turbine engine components
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Materials; Power/Propulsion; Space Systems

Curator: SBIR Support                11/27/06