The current trend is for access to space to become an increasingly commercial venture. These tools and methods developed as part of this SBIR program will support commercialization of the rocket development industry. In order to develop engines and spacecraft at more competitive prices, the development time must be shortened and thus advancements in design tools and methods are required. For companies who have a long history of developing engines for NASA, there are well established methods and means for design validation of rocket engines. However, it is difficult to make changes to these established methods and adopt advanced simulation approaches without the perception of increased risk. This SBIR program will help provide the credibility to validate advanced loads and analysis tools to allow rocket development to proceed at a commercially competitive pace while still tapping the vast experience and expertise existing at companies, such as PWR, that are so important to U.S. ability to compete in world markets. It is believed that this project will help to increase the competitiveness of U.S. engine development teams of which ATA hopes to continue to serve in an expanding way thus creating an increase in the ATA services and tools development businesses.
NASA's next generation launch systems require propulsion systems that deliver high thrust-to-weight ratios, increased trajectory averaged specific impulse, reliable overall vehicle systems performance, low recurring costs, and other innovations required to achieve cost and crew safety goals. The methods identified in this SBIR program for improvement to the loads definition provide an immediate opportunity to improve the engine development process by providing better loads estimations which can be used to reduce conservatism and to significantly improve performance with reduced weight, cost, and development time. With validated computation FSI capabilities and loads methodologies, the rocket engine community could apply these methods with confidence in future engine programs.