You are here

ASCENT Based Thruster Component and System Characterization and Optimization for Lifetime Extension


TECH FOCUS AREAS: Network Command, Control and Communications TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Space Platform OBJECTIVE: Mature advanced spacecraft energetic non-toxic (ASCENT), formerly referred to as AF-M315E, technology to meet or exceed the performance of state of the art chemical propulsion systems for air and space platforms requiring thrust levels from 1 N through 44.5 kN. DESCRIPTION: The intent of this topic is to accelerate the proliferation of ASCENT monopropellant technology to be available to meet present and emerging mission needs. Current state of the art chemical propulsion for spacecraft, kick and upper stage platform applications rely upon extremely hazardous and sensitive propulsion technologies such as hypergolic or cryogenic bipropellants, granular catalytic reactors in the case of monopropellants, or sensitive solid rocket motors. ASCENT monopropellant provides a significant reduction in operational hazards due to its reduced vapor pressure contact hazard relative to hypergols, and electrostatic discharge sensitivity. Areas of technology maturation of interest are: • Reactor or ignition approaches that reduce environmental control needs such as pre-heat and have flexibility to scale across the thrust levels of interest • Reactor or ignition approaches that mitigate duty cycle and life limiting attrition mechanisms • Long term compatibility and consistent operability of storage, feed, and flow control components for extended mission life applications • Characterization and understanding of the impact of aging and extended exposure to state of the art propulsion component materials to ASCENT hazard and delivered performance • Modeling and simulation tools capturing component behavior with ASCENT, reactive and non-reactive flow models, optimized catalytic or energy deposition ignition device characteristics such as pore size and density, dominant decomposition and combustion reaction paths to support design of increased life and thrust delivery • Diagnostic approaches that support delivered performance and thruster state of health assessment that can provide accurate information from the high temperature and oxidation environment ASCENT produces under decomposition and combustion • Thermal management approaches to decrease required pre-heat power for a given reactor configuration and propellant feed line stand-off distances in propulsion systems. In regards to component optimization and long term compatibility, responsive manufacturing methods such as those that fall under additive manufacture techniques or coatings to impart desired characteristics are also of interest. Igniter or reactor configurations of interest are not limited to state of the art structure and composition. Approaches to maturation should include sufficient engineering analyses to provide confidence of feasibility and pathway to flight qualification. Supporting analyses should also consider limitations in the physical architecture so that the approach could satisfy current state of the art mission duty cycles and life as defined by propellant throughput associated with required delivered impulse across the thrust range of 1 N through 44.5 kN. PHASE I: Demonstrate at minimum empirically via bench level heavyweight configuration for measured data feasibility of maturation approach for target platform application mission duty cycles and the critical aspects of the physical architecture that drive the requirements. Industrial base considerations should be included in the analysis. Lab bench validation to the extent feasible is also desired. PHASE II: Demonstrate the viability of the Phase I concept performance and manufacturability of the architecture to a TRL 5/6 level with supporting empirical data and analysis. PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Transition of Phase II technology to a flight demonstration program. This effort will include all necessary activities for flight qualification as well as support for on-orbit flight demonstration activities. NOTE: The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the proposed tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with section 5.4.c.(8) of the Announcement and within the AF Component-specific instructions. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws. Please direct questions to the Air Force SBIR/STTR Contracting Officer, Ms. Kris Croake, REFERENCES: 1. Schmitz, B., Williams, D., Smith, W., and Maybee, D., “Design and Sacling Criteria for Monopropellant Hydrazine Engines and Gas Generators Employing Shell 405 Catalyst”, AIAA 2nd Propulsion Joint Specialist Conference, Colorado Springs, CO, June 13-17, 1966. 2. Hawkins, T.W., Brand, A.J., McKay, M.B., and Ismail, I.M.K., “Characterization of Reduced Toxicity, High Performance Monopropellants at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory”, Fourth International Conference on Green Propellants for Space Propulsion, Noordwijk, NL, June 2001. 3. Jankovsky, R.S., “HAN-Based Monopropellant Assessment for Spacecraft”, AIAA 96-2863, pp 1-7, 32nd AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, July 1-3, 1996. 4. Lani, B., “Microwave Ignition of Green Monopropellants”, The Pennsylvania State University, The Graduate School College of Engineering, State College, PA May, 2014. 5. Esparza, A., Ferguson, R., Choudhuri, A., Love, N., and Shafirovich, E., “Thermoanalytical studies on the thermal and catalytic decomposition of aqueous hydroxylammonium nitrate solution”, Combustion and Flame 193, 417-423, 2018 6. McLean, C., et al, ‘Green Propellant Infusion Mission Program Development and Technology’, 51st AIAA/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference, July 2015, Orlando, FL 7. Quach, P., Brand, A., and Warmoth, G., “Adiabatic Compression Testing of AF-M315E”, 51st AIAA/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference, July 2015, Orlando, FL 8. Sampson, J., Martinez, J., and Mclean, C., “Fracture Mechanics Testing of Titanium 6Al-4V in AF-M315E”, 51st AIAA/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference, July 2015, Orlando, FL 9. Spores, R., et al., “GPIM AF-M315E Propulsion System” 51st AIAA/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference, July 2015, Orlando, FL 10. Hawkins, T.W.; Brand, A.J.; McKay, M.B., and Tinnirello, M.; “Reduced Toxicity, High Performance Monopropellant at The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory”, International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety Conference, Huntsville, AL, 19-21 May 2010 11. Ballinger, A.I., Lay, W.D., and Tam, W.H., “Review and History of PSI Elastomeric Diaphragm Tanks”, 31st AIAA Joint Propulsion Conference, San Diego, CA, July10-12, 1995. 12. Armstrong, W.E., Voge, H.H., “Hydrazine Decomposition Catalyst”, United States Patent Number 3,730,909, May 1, 1973.
US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government