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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

In-Space LOX/Methane Pintle Propulsion Engine (LMPPE) Evaluation and Demonstration

Completed Technology Project

Project Description

In-Space LOX/Methane Pintle Propulsion Engine (LMPPE) Evaluation and Demonstration, Phase I
KTE's proposed innovation is the LOx/Methane Pintle Propulsion Engine or (LMPPE), which can offer higher reliability, lower cost and higher performance than conventional impinging injector-based combustion devices for in space propulsion systems. The concept can be used in both pump and pressure-fed engine architectures. The LMPPE builds upon the Catalytically Initiated Combustor (CIC) igniter technology previously demonstrated to a high TRL coupled with a low cost pintle main injector that has potential to provide a path for a LOx/Methane upper stage engine that is dynamically stable offering high performance with a wide throttle capability over a range of propellant inlet conditions. The CIC based pintle propulsion engine also offers attractive packaging advantages and improved reliability and operability while reducing development costs and risks for upper-stage engines. The pintle propulsion approach requires looser tolerances of the components and can be successfully fabricated from a number of additive manufacturing approaches. This multi-functional capability will further reduce cost and improve reliability in launch or in-space vehicles by increasing component production rates and reducing part count. The focus of the proposed effort is to prove the feasibility of this novel oxygen/methane pintle engine. The in-space engine can be designed to operate at lower chamber pressures, lending itself to the use of composite and additive manufactured components. The design offers an inherent combustion stability allowing simpler combustion chamber designs and ease of fabrication due to the omission of complex acoustic damping devices. Therefore, an expensive development programs can be avoided due to the very low risk of combustion instability. More »

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