Nitrous Oxide Propulsion System

Award Information
Agency:
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch
n/a
Amount:
$600,000.00
Award Year:
2004
Program:
SBIR
Phase:
Phase II
Contract:
NNJ04JA21C
Agency Tracking Number:
024172
Solicitation Year:
n/a
Solicitation Topic Code:
n/a
Solicitation Number:
n/a
Small Business Information
Pioneer Astronautics
11111 W. 8th Avenue, Unit A, Lakewood, CO, 80215
Hubzone Owned:
N
Minority Owned:
N
Woman Owned:
N
Duns:
957619083
Principal Investigator:
Robert Zubrin
Principal Investigator
(303) 980-0890
zubrin@aol.com
Business Contact:
Robert Zubrin
Business Official
(303) 980-0890
zubrin@aol.com
Research Institution:
n/a
Abstract
The Nitrous Oxide Propulsion System (NOPS) is a new Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) thruster concept using nitrous oxide as a monopropellant. Liquid monopropellants are often used in propulsion systems where simplicity of design, restartable/control on demand, and repeatability is desired. Unfortunately, many monopropellants are toxic and dangerous, ruling them out for EMU thruster application. Thus, EMU thrusters have relied upon cold gaseous nitrogen, which offers very low specific impulse and propellant mass fraction. A NOPS, however, uses nitrous oxide, a readily available safe and storable propellant which is not toxic, has performance comparable to hydrazine, and does not decompose spontaneously like hydrogen peroxide. Furthermore, Pioneer Astronautics has demonstrated a system that decomposes N2O into a breathable mix of oxygen and nitrogen. Thus, for example, an EMU propelled by a NOPS system would provide an astronaut with a large emergency backup supply of oxygen. Such a dual use system could also have great utility as the propulsion system for manned spacecraft, such as the International Space Station or the Space Shuttle, where safety is paramount and breathing gas reserves are desired. Replacing current liquid monopropellant thrusters with NOPS units would greatly reduce ground processing time and costs, while providing comparable performance.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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