Magnesium Based Rockets for Martian Exploration

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: NNX10CC62P
Agency Tracking Number: 095688
Amount: $99,993.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2010
Solitcitation Year: 2009
Solitcitation Topic Code: S3.08
Solitcitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
Busek Co., Inc.
11 Tech Circle, Natick, MA, 01760-1023
Duns: 185739591
Hubzone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 James Szabo
 Principal Investigator
 (508) 655-5565
 jszabo@busek.com
Business Contact
 Judy Budny
Title: Business Official
Phone: (508) 655-5565
Email: judy@busek.com
Research Institution
N/A
Abstract
We propose to develop Mg rockets for Martian ascent vehicle applications. The propellant can be acquired in-situ from MgO in the Martian regolith (5.1% Mg by mass) and combusted with H20 that exists at the poles and below the surface. The vacuum Isp of a Mg-H20 rocket would be ~300 s. Mg can also be combusted with CO2 condensed from the Martian atmosphere to yield Isp ~215 s. The technology can also be used on the Moon, where regolith is 5.5% Mg. Al-H20 rockets would also be enabled; like Mg, Al is present in Martian and Lunar regolith. In Phase I, we will prove the feasibility of Mg rockets. Chemical Equilibrium Analysis codes will be used to predict rocket performance at various operating conditions and O/F ratios. Combustion with CO2, H20, and pure O2 will be considered. Experiments will focus on developing and characterizing delivery, ignition and combustion systems, starting with ARL's existing Mg combustion system. Ways to achieve low temperature, electrolytic ignition and stable combustion will be studied. Drawing upon both experimental and theoretical results, we will then design a 5-10 N metal-water rocket system to be built and tested in Phase II.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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