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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

Pistonless Pumps for Nanosat Launch and Sample Return Vehicles, Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Pistonless Pumps for Nanosat Launch and Sample Return Vehicles, Phase I
This proposal responds to the request for pumps for pressure-fed propulsion systems with a pistonless pump wherein a pressurant act directly on the propellant(s) in a set of pump chambers. The pump system will work for both in-space and spacecraft descent and ascent systems, and it is applicable to nanosat launch vehicle (NLV) technologies as well. When integrated into a full propulsion system, this pump will increase payload mass fraction, reliability, safety, and operating flexibility. The same pump can be used for the main engine, attitude control thrusters, and fuel transfer, since the pump provides variable pressure at variable flow without using extra consumables. The pistonless design avoids sliding seals, which can cause problems for piston pumps. No precision components are needed, and all active components can be redundant and/or contamination-tolerant. For space transportation or launch vehicle systems with liquid/supercritical helium and/or multi-stage autogenous pressurization, "system Isp" including pressurant and tank mass can be intermediate between gas-generator and staged combustion turbopump systems, but at much lower cost and complexity than with either of those types. The pump has already been designed, built and tested under lab conditions, pumping kerosene, liquid nitrogen and water. The performance improvements due to inclusion of the pump in various systems have already been analyzed. The purpose of this SBIR is to bring the pistonless pump technology up to a TRL 5 level and integrate it into a nanosat launch vehicle. The work to be done consists of designing, building and testing pump features for operation under vibration, acceleration and reduced absolute pressure environments. The pump will then be integrated into a prototype NLV first stage and a full duration ground test will be conducted. If the budget is sufficient, we will conduct a flight test to 50,000 ft. The flight test pump and data will be delivered to NASA More »

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This is a historic project that was completed before the creation of TechPort on October 1, 2012. Available data has been included. This record may contain less data than currently active projects.