Flight Demonstration of a Micropump-based Stage Pressurization System
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Vector Launch, Inc. proposes to apply recent advances in micropump and additive manufacturing technologies to develop and demonstrate a micropump-based autogenous pressurization system for its commercial Vector-R and mature the technology with multiple static-fire-tests leading to a demonstration flight test (TRL 6). The Vector-R is a 2-stage pressure-fed, LOX/subcooled propylene commercial small launch vehicle, designed to place up to 60 kg in low earth orbit. Electrically-driven micropumps drive a small portion of each propellant over a novel 3D-printed heat exchanger at the engine to pressurize the tanks. Excess flow can be diverted to the engine as needed.
This approach reduces system mass, complexity and acquisition cost as well as operational costs. It eliminates the need for all high-pressure tanks and associated components. It can be used on any pressure-fed stage, for launch vehicle and in-space application when using high vapor pressure propellants such as LOX/methane or LOX/propane. As such, it is an enabler for missions targeted to use in-situ propellants since the need for a separate pressurant like helium is either greatly reduced or eliminated.
By leveraging Vector’s ongoing commercially-funded Vector-R micro-launcher development, it is possible to reach TRL 6-ready system during Phase II and transition to the Vector-R operations (TRL-9) soon after.
* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *