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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

ACE Booster, Phase II

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

GTL has been developing a suite of transformational technologies that have the capability to disrupt the traditional launch vehicle paradigm. BHL composite cryotank technology provides a four times improvement over large aluminum iso-grid tanks, offering a 6 percentage point improvement in small stage PMF. Superior Stability Engine is an innovative liquid rocket engine configured to maximize combustion stability margin while also maximizing engine performance. NORPS is a non-helium gas generator system that can be used to pressurize the propellant tanks for 1/3 the mass and 1/10 the volume of a comparable helium based system. Using these and other technologies, GTL has developed the conceptual design for the Advanced Cryogenic Expendable (ACE) nano-launch vehicle. The 7700 lb gross lift-off weight ACE vehicle is capable of delivering a 154 lb payload to 400 nmi circular orbit at 28.5 deg inclination. With a launch cost of less than $1M at low launch rate, ACE is directly competitive with existing large launch vehicles on a $/lb basis. This affordability is enabled by a combination of high performance, reduced stages and parts count, and simplified operations. The proposed Phase II effort will seek to reduce the ACE vehicle development risk by increasing the technology readiness level of critical technologies. Specifically, GTL will fabricate and test a prototype NORPS gas generator and pressurization system. Along with this, GTL shall fabricate a full-scale BHL composite cryotank for use in the system testing using modular manufacturing techniques. The integrated system shall be tested for operational capabilities to demonstrate the effectiveness of the technology and optimize the system design. The data from these tests will be used to refine and optimize the design of the ACE vehicle. More »

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