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Improved Thermo-Mechanical Design of the VASIMR RF Coupler

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: 80NSSC22PA916
Agency Tracking Number: 222369
Amount: $149,913.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: Z10
Solicitation Number: SBIR_22_P1
Solicitation Year: 2022
Award Year: 2022
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2022-07-21
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2023-01-25
Small Business Information
141 West Bay Area Boulevard
Webster, TX 77598-4111
United States
DUNS: 199033569
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Aidan Corrigan
 (281) 526-0525
Business Contact
 Enriqueta Martinez
Title: Controller
Phone: (281) 526-0518
Research Institution

Ad Astra Rocket Company proposes a novel method of manufacturing a VASIMRreg; coupler.nbsp; This method intends to increase the surface area in contact between the actively cooled coupler and the plasma facing GCT resulting in a lower heat flux between the components, lower temperature on the GCT, higher operational temperature margin, and ultimately a higher steady-state operational power limit of 100 kW for the VX-200SStrade; prototype.nbsp; This innovation is anticipated to increase the contact surface area by a factor of 3 and lower the temperature of the full-scale Ion Cyclotron Heating (ICH) GCT by roughly 40%.nbsp; This manufacturing method will first be applied to a small-scale coupler assembly that will then have its thermal performance experimentally verified and compared to a traditionally-manufactured small-scale coupler assembly.nbsp; At the completion of the Phase I work, Ad Astra will provide a small-scale prototype demonstrating the viability of the manufacturing method and a report that contains experimental data, simulation results, analysis, predicted thermal performance of the full-scale ICH coupler assembly, and a design/test plan for thruster-level integration and demonstration to be implemented in Phase II.nbsp;This maturation of the VASIMRreg; engine will move it closer to commercialization. The VASIMRreg; engine is a high-power electric propulsion system approaching TRL 5.nbsp; Past prototypes have exceeded many key performance parameters detailed in the National Academies#39; quot;Space Nuclear Propulsion for Human Mars Explorationquot; 2021 report and are anticipated to exceed them all.nbsp; The VX-200 VASIMRreg; prototype operated at 200 kW of electrical power at 72% efficiency and a specific impulse of 4,900 seconds.nbsp; VASIMRreg; engines can use many propellants including argon and krypton.nbsp; The TC-1Q first flight unit is expected to operate at 150 kW electrical power, readily be clustered to exceed 1 MW, have a specific mass of 4 kg/kWe, and have an operation lifetime of 10 years.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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