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Advanced Microwave Electrothermal Thruster for Dual-Mode Water Rocket…

Award Information

Department of Defense
Air Force
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2009 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Orbital Technologies Corporation (ORBITE
Space Center, 1212 Fourier Drive Madison, WI 53717-1961
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 1
Fiscal Year: 2009
Title: Advanced Microwave Electrothermal Thruster for Dual-Mode Water Rocket Propulsion (AMET-DMWRP)
Agency / Branch: DOD / USAF
Contract: FA9300-09-M-3001
Award Amount: $100,000.00


ORBITEC proposes to develop the Advanced Microwave Electrothermal Thruster (AMET) for use as one of the primary thrusters in the Dual-Mode Water Rocket Propulsion system. The AMET uses an electrodeless microwave discharge to produce thrust from water vapor propellant, delivering specific impulse in excess of 800 seconds with a highly efficient process. Microwave energy is introduced to a resonant chamber via an antenna; the microwave energy is refocused by the chamber at a location immediately upstream of the nozzle. Water vapor (steam) propellant is tangentially injected into the aft (left) half of the resonant chamber, and swirls inward towards the nozzle. A plasma discharge in the water vapor is established at the focal point adjacent to the nozzle, facilitating the transfer of energy from the oscillating microwave energy to the water vapor prior to its expulsion from the nozzle to produce thrust. Microwave electrothermal technology is the only known option for delivering high Isp (over 500 seconds) from water. BENEFIT: Taken by itself, the AMET is an attractive propulsion technology in its own right. In the context of the integrated Dual-Mode Water Rocket Propulsion system, it becomes even more appealing when compared to currently available in-space propulsion technologies, with the advantages of mission flexibility, high performance, and zero toxicity. ORBITEC foresees the DoD as being the first key customer to use DMWRP systems, which will be applicable for most orbiting vehicles with significant in-space propulsion requirements. Once the technology has been demonstrated, ORBITEC intends to broaden its marketing efforts to include both commercial and NASA customers.)

Principal Investigator:

Chris St. Clair
Principal Aerospace Engin

Business Contact:

Eric E. Rice
President and CEO
Small Business Information at Submission:

Space Center, 1212 Fourier Drive Madison, WI 53717

EIN/Tax ID: 391628664
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No