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Advanced Composite Thrust Chambers for the Altair Lunar Lander

Award Information

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2009 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Plasma Processes, LLC
4914 Moores Mill Road Huntsville, AL 35811-1558
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 1
Fiscal Year: 2009
Title: Advanced Composite Thrust Chambers for the Altair Lunar Lander
Agency: NASA
Contract: NNX09CF46P
Award Amount: $100,000.00


Radiation-cooled, bipropellant thrusters are being considered for the Ascent Module main engine of the Altair Lunar Lander. Currently, iridium-lined rhenium combustion chambers are the state-of-the-art for radiatively cooled thrusters. To increase the performance of radiation-cooled engines, improved chamber materials are being developed that will allow higher operating temperatures, better resistance to oxidation, and reduce mass. In an effort to increase performance, hafnium oxide thermal barrier coatings and improved iridium liners have been developed, and hot-fire tests of rhenium chambers with these improvements have shown higher operating temperatures, i.e., >200oC increase, are possible. To reduce engine mass, recent efforts have focused on the development of carbon-carbon composites. Replacement of a rhenium structural wall with carbon-carbon could result in a mass savings of >600%. During this effort, an innovative composite thrust chamber will be developed that will incorporate advanced hafnium oxide and iridium liner techniques as well as replacing the expensive, high density rhenium with a low mass carbon-carbon composite. As a result of this investigation, an advanced composite thrust chamber with improved performance capability and reduced mass will be produced. During Phase II, the fabrication methods will be optimized and a full-size Ascent Module chamber will be produced and hot-fire tested.

Principal Investigator:

John S. O'Dell
Principal Investigator

Business Contact:

Timothy N. McKechnie
Small Business Information at Submission:

Plasma Processes, Inc.
4914 Moores Mill Road Huntsville, AL 35811

EIN/Tax ID: 631100320
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No