Nanomaterials for High Performance Rocket Engines
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2929 Eskridge Rd, P-1,, Eskridge Center, Fairfax, VA, 22031
Jacob J. Stiglich, Ph.d.
AbstractThe application of high-temperature refractory materials such as rhenium, iridium and tungsten to liquid rocket engines holds substantial potential for improvement in the life of the components. Currently, Ir-Re rocket engines and thrusters are manufactured by chemical vapor deposition. Although this technique has been successful, it is plagued by prohibitively high costs and low rate of production thereby hindering the application of this technology to large engines with a thrust of 44.5 kN or greater. Furthermore, the system itself is too heavy and thus compromises the amount of payload each launch can deploy. In this Phase I, we propose to develop an unconventional dual stage technique for developing ultrahigh temperature materials for these applications with a substantial reduction in the weight of the thruster. We will develop these materials using a synergistic approach combining synthesis and rapid consolidation techniques. This is expected to result in a quantum leap in the advancement of space propulsion technology. The proposed approach is expected to save up to $4-5 million per launch and $25,000 per thruster. Substantially greater savings are expected for larger engines as the efficiency and lifetime of the components are expected to increase. These engines are likely to find increasing use in deployment of commercial satellites especially for Motorola's Iridium, and Loral's - GlobalStar. These companies are expected to launch over 40 satellites for world wide communication in the next 3 years.
* information listed above is at the time of submission.