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Space Propulsion

Developing capabilities to support NASA’s mission to take astronauts to a variety of deep-space destinations, through innovations in propellant management and chemical, electric and nuclear propulsion technology.

Image of Oxygen_Methane torch

Components of a Chemical Propulsion System

There are several components that make up chemical propulsion systems.  These can be divided into three major groups:  The Propellant Delivery/Feed System, the Thrust Chamber Assembly, and sometimes Thrust Vector Control systems. Each of these groups can be further broken down into specific components that make up the group, and often have dedicated branches or … Read the rest ⇢

Image of a Typical NTP System

Components of a Nuclear Thermal Propulsion System

Hydrogen is stored at cryogenic temperatures (20 K) to maintain the propellant in a liquid state by Cryogenic Fluid Management Systems. Includes plumbing, valves, filters, and fluid management devices needed to ensure the propellant is adequately delivered to the reactor at the right conditions. The Turbopump includes turbomachinery/pumps needed to help push and condition the … Read the rest ⇢

Liquid Oxygen and Gasious Hydrogen engine

Capabilities & Technology

The heart of “rocket science”, analysis is the research and engineering of examining current and future engine designs, examining test data, specification sheets, design details, as well as the anticipated conditions the spacecraft or vehicle will be subjected to.  These all help to describe the overall performance of an engine system, and analysis ensures that … Read the rest ⇢

Capabilities & Technology

Multiphysics analysis of the reactor (FEA/CFD/MCNP) combines neutronics, fluid, thermal, and structural simulations all coupled together, which captures design subtleties otherwise not seen without coupling the simulations. Numerical Propulsion System Simulation (NPSS) is an object-oriented, non-linear code originally developed at GRC in 1995 and is used to model full engine systems and integrate model details … Read the rest ⇢

Solar Electric Propulsion

Solar Electric Propulsion

“Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World.” —Inscription on Columbus’ ships

100-lbf liquid oxygen_liquid methane engine shown in a NASA test facility

Chemical Propulsion Systems

Designing and testing chemical propulsion systems and nuclear thermal engines for satellites and spacecraft, in support of NASA’s space exploration missions.

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