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Thermal Management of Superconducting Electromagnets in VASIMR Thrusters

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: NNJ05JA17C
Agency Tracking Number: 034786
Amount: $599,940.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: F7.01
Solicitation Number: N/A
Solicitation Year: 2003
Award Year: 2005
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2004-12-20
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2006-11-30
Small Business Information
Etna Rd., P.O. Box 71, Hanover, NH, 03755-0071
DUNS: 072021041
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 William Baschnagel
 Principal Investigator
 (603) 643-3800
Business Contact
 William Baschnagel
Title: Operations Manager
Phone: (603) 643-3800
Research Institution
The Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR) engine currently being developed at NASA Johnson is an attractive technology for minimizing transit time and crew harm during future space exploration missions. One of the critical challenges in developing a flight engine is thermal management of the high-temperature, superconducting electromagnets used to constrain and accelerate the plasma. The innovation of the proposed project is a high-capacity turbo-Brayton cryocooler for this application. The cryocooler has heritage in the space-qualified cryocooler that was developed by Creare and installed on the Hubble Space Telescope. Turbo-Brayton cryocoolers are lightweight, compact, efficient, and highly reliable. The technology scales well to high cooling capacities and is simple to integrate with multiple cooling objects; attributes that are particularly beneficial for VASIMR systems. In Phase I, we developed a preliminary design of the thermal management system, addressing key issues regarding the application of turbo-Brayton cooling technology to VASIMR engines. In Phase II, we plan to build and demonstrate a brassboard thermal management system. Phase II is justified by the feasibility demonstrated in Phase I, by the relevance of the project to a development effort at NASA, and by the importance of this technology to NASA's goal of space exploration.

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

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