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High Performance Actuators for Solid Propulsion Control Systems



TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Electronics, Materials/Processes, Weapons

The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals, their country of origin, and what tasks each would accomplish in the statement of work in accordance with section 5.4.c.(8) of the solicitation.

OBJECTIVE: Develop and demonstrate innovative architectures and/or high temperature electronics for increasing the temperature capability of actuators used with proportionally controlled valves/thrusters.

DESCRIPTION: Seek solid propellant, propulsion control systems with longer operation times, increased performance, and reduced size, weight, power, and cost (SWaP-C). There is particular interest in developing and maturing robust Solid Propulsion Control Systems (SPCS)component technologies. Solid propellant exhaust gases are commonly 2,000-4,000°F while the actuator to valve/thruster interface commonly must be limited to less than 200-300°F. This relatively low temperature limit at the actuator interface is often a driving design factor in many propulsion control systems. The development and maturation of proportionally controlled actuators that are capable of enduring higher temperatures while aiming to maintain performance and/or reduce SWaP-C will improve the robustness of future SPCS architectures. Successful development of higher temperature capable actuators has the potential to increase the operation times of future SPCS and offer propulsion vendors increased system design flexibility. The proposer could potentially achieve these desired improvements through innovative actuator architectures or designs, high temperature electronics focused on actuators, or enhanced materials for actuators.

PHASE I: Develop a proof of concept solution; identify candidate materials, electronics, technologies, or actuator architectures. Complete a preliminary evaluation of the proposed improvement(s). Complete an initial design for the actuator technology to demonstrate the proof of concept. Include laboratory experimentation and/or modeling as appropriate to verify the proposed concept. Deliver an initial design for the prototype along with performance estimates.

PHASE II: Expand on Phase I results by completing detailed prototype design and produce components for testing in a simulated environment that can demonstrate the performance of the technology. Testing should verify design assumptions and performance estimates. Include a detailed design and detailed performance analysis from the prototype testing.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Work with the appropriate missile interceptor integrator (prime contractor, propulsion vendor, or actuator vendor) to refine the requirements and demonstrate the technology in a relevant environment. A successful Phase III would transition the technology into a missile defense application.


  • U.S. Missile Defense Agency. November 3, 2015. Ballistic Missile Defense System. Retrieved from
  • U.S. Department of Defense. Undated. Ballistic Missile Defense Review. Retrieved from
  • George P. Sutton. 2010. "Rocket Propulsion Elements." John Wiley and Sons Inc, 8th edition.

KEYWORDS: actuator, SDACS, high temperature electronics, proportionally controlled, control system, valve, thruster

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