Alternate Propellant Thermal Rocket

Award Information
Agency:
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch
n/a
Amount:
$69,964.00
Award Year:
2005
Program:
SBIR
Phase:
Phase I
Contract:
NNC05CA53C
Agency Tracking Number:
040450
Solicitation Year:
2004
Solicitation Topic Code:
X6.07
Solicitation Number:
n/a
Small Business Information
Pioneer Astronautics
11111 W. 8th Ave., Unit A, Lakewood, CO, 80215-5516
Hubzone Owned:
N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
N
Woman Owned:
N
Duns:
120561456
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 Alternate Propellant Thermal Rocket (APTR) is a novel concept for propulsion of space exploration or orbit transfer vehicles. APTR propulsion is provided by utilizing a nuclear thermal reactor or solar thermal engine to heat a space storable propellant, preferably consisting of a volatile indigenous to the destination world, to form a high thrust rocket exhaust. Candidate propellants whose performance, materials compatibility, and ease of acquisition make them worthy of examination for APTR propulsion of exploration vehicles include carbon dioxide, water, methane, and methanol. An APTR utilizing indigenous CO2 propellant potentially offers high payoff to a robotic or manned Mars mission, both by sharply reducing the initial mission mass required in low Earth orbit, and by providing Mars exploration with unlimited mobility and global access. Additionally, an APTR could give nearly unlimited mobility to asteroid or outer solar system probes, while one using methane or nitrogen propellant could enable a Titan sample return mission. The APTR can also be used as the propulsion system for a high performance space storable orbit transfer system moving payloads from LEO to GEO or other orbits of commercial interest. In this case, leading candidate propellants include methane, ammonia, and methanol.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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