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SBIR/STTR

The Application of 3D Additive Machining to Enhance the Affordability of a Small Launcher Booster Stage, Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

The technical innovation proposed here expands upon early research into the viability of additive machining (AM) for liquid rocket engine components and other emerging capabilities to initiate TRL 6 flight test evaluations of candidate applications that could enhance the affordability of a small launch vehicle (SLV) booster stage. University of California, San Diego (USCD) has achieved success in applying 3D AM to fabricate a 200 lbf-thrust LOX/kerosene engine. Concurrently, the Garvey Spacecraft Corporation (GSC) team continues to make progress in the development and flight testing of key elements for a future low-cost nanosat launch vehicle (NLV). These NASA-sponsored NLV designs, concept of operations (CONOPS) and cost metrics based on actual flight operations now serve as references for evaluating emerging technologies like UCSD's AM engine(s) to implement an SLV first stage that achieves the aggressive cost, performance and sizing goals specified in the T1.02 subtopic description. This is exactly the same approach that was followed under a previous NASA STTR that successfully demonstrated a TRL 6 for an advanced CMC-lined ablative engine chamber. Phase I flight testing features a subscale host vehicle, while Phase II then follows with an SLV-scale prototype booster. More »

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