Improved Rhenium Thrust Chambers for In-Space Propulsion

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: NNX12CA25C
Agency Tracking Number: 104787
Amount: $900,000.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2012
Solicitation Year: 2010
Solicitation Topic Code: S3.04
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
4914 Moores Mill Road, Huntsville, AL, 35811-1558
DUNS: 799114574
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 John Scott O'Dell
 Principal Investigator
 (256) 851-7653
 scottodell@plasmapros.com
Business Contact
 Timothy McKechnie
Title: President
Phone: (256) 851-7653
Email: timmck@plasmapros.com
Research Institution
 Stub
Abstract
Radiation-cooled, bipropellant thrust chambers are being considered for the ascent/descent engines and reaction control systems for NASA missions such as Mars Sample Return and Orion MPCV. Currently, iridium-lined rhenium combustion chambers are the state-of-the-art for in-space engines. NASA's Advanced Materials Bipropellant Rocket (AMBR) engine, a 150-lbf iridium-rhenium chamber produced by Plasma Processes and Aerojet, recently set a hydrazine specific impulse record of 333.5 seconds. To withstand the high loads during terrestrial launch, rhenium chambers with improved mechanical properties are needed. Recent EL-FormTM results have shown considerable promise for improving the mechanical properties of rhenium by producing a multi-layered deposit comprised of a tailored microstructure, i.e., Engineered Re. During Phase I, an AMBR size chamber was produced to demonstrate formation of the Engineered Re material in both the throat and barrel regions. Tensile tests showed the Engineered Re material had a yield strength greater than 40ksi at room temperature. In addition, Engineered Re deposits were produced on multiple mandrels at one time, i.e., multi-component process demonstration. During Phase II, the Engineered Re processing techniques will be optimized. Detailed characterization and mechanical properties test will be performed. Optimization of the multi-component fabrication technique will result in a 30% or higher reduction in chamber fabrication costs. The most promising techniques will be selected and used to produce an Engineered Re AMBR size combustion chamber for testing at Aerojet.

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

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