Author Topic: NASA Works to Improve Solar Electric Propulsion for Deep Space Exploration  (Read 4081 times)

Offline yg1968

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8815
  • Liked: 1029
  • Likes Given: 672
https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-to-discuss-latest-developments-in-solar-electric-propulsion-for-future-deep-space

Quote
NASA will host a media teleconference at 11:30 a.m. EDT Thursday, April 21, to discuss the latest advances in the agency’s development of solar electric propulsion (SEP) for deep space exploration.

Tuesday’s award of a contract to Aerojet Rocketdyne, Inc. for the design and development of an advanced electric propulsion system is the latest SEP milestone. A new electric propulsion system could significantly advance the nation's commercial space capabilities, and enable future deep space missions, including NASA's Journey to Mars.

The teleconference participants will be:

Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington
Bryan Smith, director of the Space Flight Systems Directorate at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland
« Last Edit: 04/20/2016 01:48 AM by yg1968 »

Offline yg1968

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8815
  • Liked: 1029
  • Likes Given: 672
Aerojet selected by NASA for a $67M Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS) contract

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-works-to-improve-solar-electric-propulsion-for-deep-space-exploration

Quote
NASA has selected Aerojet Rocketdyne, Inc. of Redmond, Washington, to design and develop an advanced electric propulsion system that will significantly advance the nation's commercial space capabilities, and enable deep space exploration missions, including the robotic portion of NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) and its Journey to Mars.

The Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS) contract is a 36-month cost-plus-fixed-fee contract with a performance incentive and total value of $67 million. Work performed under the contract could potentially increase spaceflight transportation fuel efficiency by 10 times over current chemical propulsion technology and more than double thrust capability compared to current electric propulsion systems.

“Through this contract, NASA will be developing advanced electric propulsion elements for initial spaceflight applications, which will pave the way for an advanced solar electric propulsion demonstration mission by the end of the decade,” said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) in Washington. “Development of this technology will advance our future in-space transportation capability for a variety of NASA deep space human and robotic exploration missions, as well as private commercial space missions.”

Aerojet Rocketdyne will oversee the development and delivery of an integrated electric propulsion system consisting of a thruster, power processing unit (PPU), low-pressure xenon flow controller, and electrical harness. NASA has developed and tested a prototype thruster and PPU that the company can use as a reference design.

The company will construct, test and deliver an engineering development unit for testing and evaluation in preparation for producing the follow-on flight units. During the option period of the contract, if exercised, the company will develop, verify and deliver four integrated flight units – the electric propulsion units that will fly in space. The work being performed under this contract will be led by a team of NASA Glenn Research Center engineers, with additional technical support by Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) engineers.

This work will directly complement recent advanced solar array systems work, also funded by STMD. NASA anticipates the electrical power to operate this advanced electric propulsion flight system in space will be generated by solar arrays using structures similar to those that were developed under the solar array systems contracts.

NASA has been refining development of spaceflight electric propulsion technology for more than five decades, the first successful ion electric propulsion thruster being developed at Glenn in the 1950s. The first operational test of an electric propulsion system in space was Glenn’s Space Electric Rocket Test 1, which flew on July 20, 1964.

Since then, NASA has increasingly relied on solar electric propulsion for long-duration, deep-space robotic science and exploration missions to multiple destinations, the most recent being NASA’s Dawn mission. The Dawn mission, managed by JPL, surveyed the giant asteroid Vesta and the protoplanet, Ceres, between 2011 and 2015.

The advanced electric propulsion system is the next step in NASA’s Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) project, which is developing critical technologies to extend the range and capabilities of ambitious new science and exploration missions. ARM, NASA’s mission to capture an asteroid boulder and place it in orbit around the moon in the mid-2020s, will test the largest and most advanced SEP system ever utilized for space missions.
« Last Edit: 04/20/2016 01:53 AM by yg1968 »


Offline dkanen

  • Member
  • Posts: 6
  • Liked: 1
  • Likes Given: 3
So does this mean NASA has abandoned the VASIMR proto-type or is this just a separate approach?

Offline GWH

SO is this a Ion Grid thruster?  Hall effect?  I didn't see this mentioned in either the article or press release?
« Last Edit: 04/20/2016 06:40 PM by GWH »

Offline Kansan52

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 689
  • Liked: 205
  • Likes Given: 233
So does this mean NASA has abandoned the VASIMR proto-type or is this just a separate approach?

Seems likely a separate approach.

But is this the best company to do this? Seems like corporate welfare putting together tech developed by NASA, nothing new from AJR.

Offline yg1968

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8815
  • Liked: 1029
  • Likes Given: 672
Quote from: article
Additionally, the High Power Thruster required a 100 kW-class thruster with a 20,000 hour to 40,000 hour lifetime, a variable ISP, and alternate propellant use capability.

ARM was going to use a 40 kW-class thruster. So is this for ARM or for Mars?
« Last Edit: 04/20/2016 06:55 PM by yg1968 »

Offline yg1968

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8815
  • Liked: 1029
  • Likes Given: 672
Quote from: article
Additionally, the High Power Thruster required a 100 kW-class thruster with a 20,000 hour to 40,000 hour lifetime, a variable ISP, and alternate propellant use capability.

ARM was going to use a 40 kW-class thruster. So is this for ARM or for Mars?

Answering my own question. The $67M is for a less high powered thruster. Twice the current capability according to the press release. It seems that the 100kW option is for a different program.

Quote from: press release
Work performed under the contract could potentially increase spaceflight transportation fuel efficiency by 10 times over current chemical propulsion technology and more than double thrust capability compared to current electric propulsion systems.


« Last Edit: 04/20/2016 07:57 PM by yg1968 »

Offline AnalogMan

  • Member
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2901
  • Cambridge, UK
  • Liked: 568
  • Likes Given: 19
Some documents that may be of interest.

Online RotoSequence

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 609
  • Liked: 453
  • Likes Given: 657
And a review and recent history article by Chris Gebhardt:
https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2016/04/aerojet-rocketdyne-nasas-advanced-sep-system-development/

Isn't Aerojet Rocketdyne based out of Sacramento?

Offline Sam Ho

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 406
  • Liked: 136
  • Likes Given: 1
And a review and recent history article by Chris Gebhardt:
https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2016/04/aerojet-rocketdyne-nasas-advanced-sep-system-development/

Isn't Aerojet Rocketdyne based out of Sacramento?
Yes, Corporate offices are in Sacramento, but AJR lists 14 major locations.

http://rocket.com/location-focus

The Redmond business started out as Rocket Research, and was most recently part of General Dynamics:
Quote
Shortly after the dawn of the 21st century, Aerojet acquired the Redmond-based Space Propulsion and Fire Suppression business from General Dynamic Ordnance and Tactical Systems. This acquisition brought with it a wealth of spacecraft and spacelift propulsion capabilities and allowed the company to venture beyond space launch into in-space propulsion.
http://rocket.com/company-history

Offline yg1968

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8815
  • Liked: 1029
  • Likes Given: 672
https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-to-discuss-latest-developments-in-solar-electric-propulsion-for-future-deep-space

Quote
NASA will host a media teleconference at 11:30 a.m. EDT Thursday, April 21, to discuss the latest advances in the agency’s development of solar electric propulsion (SEP) for deep space exploration.

Tuesday’s award of a contract to Aerojet Rocketdyne, Inc. for the design and development of an advanced electric propulsion system is the latest SEP milestone. A new electric propulsion system could significantly advance the nation's commercial space capabilities, and enable future deep space missions, including NASA's Journey to Mars.

The teleconference participants will be:

Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington
Bryan Smith, director of the Space Flight Systems Directorate at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland

Here is today's presser on YouTube:


Offline yg1968

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8815
  • Liked: 1029
  • Likes Given: 672
It was a very interesting presser (see link above). Here are some of the highlights:

-The thruster uses Xenon (I believe) and is at a level of 12.5 kW (today these thrusters are at a 4.5 kW level). But it can be clustered.  So it fits into a building block approach and it fits into the next increment (for example the asteroid redirect mission) which is a 50kW class mission  (at 13 and 27 minutes of the video).

-The 100kW engine is a much bigger leap in technology. So that is a different project. VASMIR is also another longer term project.

-The Aerojet contract which was just awarded is for 3 years. The base period is a little less than 2 years and there is an option for NASA to obtain thrusters in the third year of the contract (at 19 minutes of the video).

Mars telecon orbiter might use high powered SEP (at 30 minutes of the video).
« Last Edit: 04/22/2016 03:20 AM by yg1968 »

Offline yg1968

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8815
  • Liked: 1029
  • Likes Given: 672
But is this the best company to do this? Seems like corporate welfare putting together tech developed by NASA, nothing new from AJR.

Someone asked a similar question at the teleconference. NASA said that it develops the technology to a certain TRL level but it doesn't exploit it. Aerojet & others have access to NASA's technology and are the ones that use it for commercial purposes.
« Last Edit: 04/22/2016 02:50 AM by yg1968 »

Online savuporo

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4650
  • Liked: 757
  • Likes Given: 247
But is this the best company to do this? Seems like corporate welfare putting together tech developed by NASA, nothing new from AJR.
Um, Aerojet has like 30 years of experience and heritage with electric propulsion.
Orion - the first and only manned not-too-deep-space craft

Offline yg1968

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8815
  • Liked: 1029
  • Likes Given: 672
I found the following document on 12.5 kW thrusters. I believe that this is related as Glenn was involved in this project:

http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20150021868.pdf

See also slide 14 of this document:

http://www.lpi.usra.edu/sbag/meetings/jul2014/presentations/0900_Wed_Gates_ARM_activities.pdf
« Last Edit: 04/22/2016 03:11 AM by yg1968 »

Offline yg1968

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8815
  • Liked: 1029
  • Likes Given: 672

Offline Nomadd

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2217
  • Boca Chica, Texas
  • Liked: 2238
  • Likes Given: 169
 The Glenn NASA-475M I've used as a reference for many years was a 72kw, 3 newton model.

Tags: