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Advanced Composite Thrust Chambers for the Altair Lunar Lander

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: NNX09CF46P
Agency Tracking Number: 084674
Amount: $100,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: X4.06
Solicitation Number: N/A
Solicitation Year: 2008
Award Year: 2009
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2009-01-22
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2009-07-22
Small Business Information
4914 Moores Mill Road
Huntsville, AL 35811-1558
United States
DUNS: 799114574
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 John O'Dell
 Principal Investigator
 (256) 851-7653
Business Contact
 Timothy McKechnie
Title: President
Phone: (256) 851-7653
Research Institution

Radiation-cooled, bipropellant thrusters are being considered for the Ascent Module main engine of the Altair Lunar Lander. Currently, iridium-lined rhenium combustion chambers are the state-of-the-art for radiatively cooled thrusters. To increase the performance of radiation-cooled engines, improved chamber materials are being developed that will allow higher operating temperatures, better resistance to oxidation, and reduce mass. In an effort to increase performance, hafnium oxide thermal barrier coatings and improved iridium liners have been developed, and hot-fire tests of rhenium chambers with these improvements have shown higher operating temperatures, i.e., >200oC increase, are possible. To reduce engine mass, recent efforts have focused on the development of carbon-carbon composites. Replacement of a rhenium structural wall with carbon-carbon could result in a mass savings of >600%. During this effort, an innovative composite thrust chamber will be developed that will incorporate advanced hafnium oxide and iridium liner techniques as well as replacing the expensive, high density rhenium with a low mass carbon-carbon composite. As a result of this investigation, an advanced composite thrust chamber with improved performance capability and reduced mass will be produced. During Phase II, the fabrication methods will be optimized and a full-size Ascent Module chamber will be produced and hot-fire tested.

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

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