HUNTSVILLE, Ala., - The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is reaching out to industry and academic experts as it looks to gauge technology investment strategies in the realm of rotating detonation rocket engines (RDRE).
In a conventional rocket engine, combustion occurs in a constant volume or at a relatively low frequency. In contrast, an RDRE exploits the phenomenon of detonation, a supersonic combustion wave, and rotates this detonation wave around the engine's ring-shaped combustion chamber.
NASA explains that applications encompass a spectrum including hypersonic vehicles, small launch systems, launch system upper stages, lander system propulsion, and in-space propulsion. NASA's primary focus for an operational system revolves around reducing system length while maintaining a comparable specific impulse to traditional deflagrative engine systems.
The agency says that preliminary input indicates early market demand for systems with thrust levels ranging from 750lbf to 200klbf, utilizing propellants such as peroxide/kerosene, LOx/RP1, LOx/LH2, LOx/LCH4, MON25/MMH, and more.
The NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) is actively contemplating an integrated system ground demonstration aimed at mitigating risks, validating performance, and seamlessly transitioning into an operational flight demonstration. The target for operational flight infusion is set for the year 2030. In conceptual terms, the ground system validation could be carried out with a NASA-led system design and demonstration, followed by a transition to an industry-led operational system flight. The overarching objective is a smooth transition to commercial operational use with an emphasis on enhancing the cost, risk, and/or performance aspects of future applications. The ultimate goal is to make the underlying RDRE technology widely accessible to the community.
Respondents are requested to outline the optimal thrust class and propellant combination suitable for the initial user adoption of an operational system. This should encompass explicit applications, relevant market analyses, and the identification of specific operational infusion paths. Additionally, the submission should include details on critical interfaces crucial for maintaining a high probability of successful infusion, taking into account limiting or driving key performance parameters for market viability, such as mass, cost, specific impulse, length, and thrust-to-weight, among others.
Respondents are encouraged to furnish information on critical tests, activities, and/or data products essential for mitigating cost, risk, and/or schedule challenges associated with operational infusion. Specific considerations should be provided regarding any engine cycle requirements, trades, or considerations that are particularly favorable for early adoption in an operational system. Lastly, the viability of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) as an approach for investment through transition is to be addressed, taking into account NASA's intention to publicly disclose all ground system development testing data, subject to ITAR and Export Control limitations.
All submissions, in the form of a single PDF file attachment not exceeding 10MB, should be emailed to NASA MSFC by 3:30 p.m. Eastern on 5 January 2024. The designated email recipients for submissions are Belinda Triplett ([email protected]) and John W. Dankanich ([email protected]). When submitting, please use "MSFC RDRE Survey" as the subject line for the email. More information can be found here: https://sam.gov/opp/d059e1d103fe453a839fd2c4402b6703/view