36th DPS Meeting, 8-12 November 2004
Session 10 Advanced Propulsion
Special Session, Tuesday, November 9, 2004, 10:30am-12:00noon, Lewis

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[10.05] Advanced Chemical Propulsion

L. Alexander (NASA MSFC)

Improving the performance and reliability characteristics of chemical propulsion systems requires research and testing of higher-performance propellants, higher efficiency thrusters, cryogenics technology, lightweight components and advancements in propulsion system design and assessment. Propellants are being investigated to identify practical combinations with higher efficiencies and better thermal properties to reduce thermal control requirements. This includes combinations with modest increases, such as LOX-hydrazine, as well as a new evaluation of major improvements available from fluorine-bearing oxidizers. Practical ways of implementing cryogenic propulsion to further increase efficiency are also being studied. Some potential advances include small pump-fed engines, and improvements in cryocooler technology and tank pressure control. Gelled propellants will be tested to determine the practicality of letting propellants freeze at low environmental temperatures and thawing them only when required for use. The propellant tank is typically the single highest non-expendable mass in a chemical propulsion system. Lightweight tank designs, materials and methods of fabrication are being investigated. These are projected to offer a 45-50 percent decrease in tank mass, representing the potential inert system mass savings. Mission and systems analyses are being conducted to guide the technology research and set priorities for technology investment, based on estimated gains in payload and mission capabilities. This includes development of advanced assessment tools and analyses of specific missions selected from Science Missions’ Directorate. The goal is to mature a suite of reliable advanced propulsion technologies that will promote more cost efficient missions through the reduction of interplanetary trip time, increased scientific payload mass fraction and longer on-station operations. This talk will review the Advanced Chemical technology development roadmap, current funded technology development work, future funding opportunities and results from on-going mission studies.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to www.inspacepropulsion.com. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: Leslie.Alexander-1@nasa.gov

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