USAF Research Laboratory Licenses Green Propellant to Digital Solid State Propulsion

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFRL PR) – A recently signed Air Force Research Laboratory patent licensing agreement will enable commercialization of a green alternative to hydrazine for spacecraft propulsion.

The AFRL Aerospace Systems Directorate (AFRL/RQ) signed a patent license agreement with Digital Solid State Propulsion Inc., a small business located in Reno, Nevada.  Under the agreement, the company will produce and sell the Air Force developed monopropellant, AF-M315E. The PLA was coupled with a cooperative research and development agreement that allows AFRL scientists to collaborate with the company to provide technical knowledge and advice.

(more…)

USAF Research Laboratory Seeks Innovative Small Business Proposals

Do you run a small business that has some innovative ideas about space systems?  If so, the U.S. Air Force wants to hear from you.

“The Air Force Research Laboratory, Space Vehicles Directorate (AFRL/RV) is seeking proposals from offeror’s to advance the technology and scientific knowledge supporting all aspects of space systems,” a new solicitation reads. “Space system will include launch, payload adapters, on-orbit systems, communications links, ground systems, and user equipment.

“Efforts will include basic, applied, and advanced research, advanced component and technology development, prototyping, system development and demonstration, and operational system development,” the document adds. “This effort will span the range from concept and laboratory experimentation to testing/demonstration in a relevant environment.”

Read the full solicitation. The response date is April 9, 2018.

AFRL’s Advanced Multi-junction Solar Cells Deliver High Efficiency, Reduced Costs

Inverted Metamorphic Multi-Junction Solar Cells are a more efficient and lighter weight alternative to the state-of-practice multi-junction space solar cells. (Credit: SolAero Technologies)

By Marisa Alia-Novobilski
Air Force Research Laboratory

Experts at the Air Force Research Laboratory continue to expand the scope of their technological expertise, rising above the Earth’s surface to meet the power needs of next generation military spacecraft.

A collaborative effort between the AFRL Materials and Manufacturing and Space Vehicles Directorates, the Space Industrial Base Working Group and SolAero Technologies has resulted in state-of-the art, multi-junction solar cells destined to reduce costs and increase power efficiency for military space applications.

(more…)

Orbital ATK Receives $20 Million Contract for Solid Booster Technology

The ground test of Orbital ATK’s five-segment rocket motor, known as QM-1, ocurred on March 11, 2015. (Credit: Orbital ATK)

The ground test of Orbital ATK’s five-segment rocket motor, known as QM-1, ocurred on March 11, 2015. (Credit: Orbital ATK)[/caption]The U.S. Air Force has awarded a $20 million contract to ATK Launch Systems for “advanced rocket technology-solid boost technology.”

The award is an “indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, hybrid cost-plus-fixed fee and firm-fixed-price contract for advanced rocket technology-solid boost technology. This contract provides a contract vehicle the Air Force Research Laboratory, aerospace systems, and rocket propulsion division can use to establish task orders to advance solid rocket motor technologies and address technical needs for next-generation strategic, tactical, and spacecraft propulsion systems,” according to the contract announcement.

“Work will be performed in Corinne, Utah, and is expected to be completed by Oct. 16, 2022,” the announcement states. “This award is the result of a competitive acquisition, with two offers received. Fiscal 2017 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $650,000 are being obligated at the time of award. Air Force Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base, California, is the contracting activity.”

BlackSky Awarded $16.4 Million Contract by Air Force Research Lab

SEATTLE, August 29, 2017 (Spaceflight Industries PR) – Spaceflight Industries today announced that BlackSky has been awarded a two-year $16.4 million cost-plus-prime contract with the Air Force Research Lab to develop and deliver a cloud-based geospatial intelligence broker platform. The brokering platform will provide on-demand analytics, collection, and information services from global data sources.

(more…)

Aerojet Rocketdyne Completes Fuel Boost Kick Pump Testing

The HBTD kick pump in test configuration at Aerojet Rocketdyne’s test facility in Sacramento, California. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 12, 2017 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), successfully completed its test campaign of a fuel boost kick pump at its Sacramento, California, facility as part of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Hydrocarbon Boost Technology Demonstrator (HBTD) program. This device, as part of the engine turbomachinery, is the first full-scale engine component to be tested on the program. Aerojet Rocketdyne tested the pump units at full power to provide key insights for future engines that use the oxygen-rich staged combustion (ORSC) engine cycle.

(more…)

The Year in Suborbital Launches

The New Shepard capsule separates from its booster as the abort motor fires. (Credit: Blue Origin)
The New Shepard capsule separates from its booster as the abort motor fires. (Credit: Blue Origin)

Although orbital launch vehicles get all the glory (and infamy when they fail), 2016 was also a busy year for the far less glamorous suborbital launch sector. There were 19 suborbital launches at various sites around the world, and two more sounding rocket launches of note where the payload didn’t go above 100 km.
(more…)

NASA Team Demonstrates Loading of Swedish ‘Green’ Propellant

A Goddard team, led by engineer Henry Mulkey (middle), prepares a tank containing a Swedish-developed green propellant before its simulated loading at the Wallops Flight Facility late last year. Kyle Bentley (squatting) and Joe Miller (standing to the right of Mulkey) assisted in the demonstration. (Credits: NASA/C. Perry)
A Goddard team, led by engineer Henry Mulkey (middle), prepares a tank containing a Swedish-developed green propellant before its simulated loading at the Wallops Flight Facility late last year. Kyle Bentley (squatting) and Joe Miller (standing to the right of Mulkey) assisted in the demonstration. (Credits: NASA/C. Perry)

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (NASA PR) — A NASA team has successfully demonstrated the handling and loading of a new-fangled, Swedish-developed “green propellant” that smells like glass cleaner, looks like chardonnay, but has proven powerful enough to propel a satellite.

(more…)

Green Propellant Infusion Mission Progresses

A green propellant propulsion subsystem was recently delivered to Ball Aerospace for integration into the Green Propellant Infusion Mission spacecraft. The subsystem will be one of three experimental payloads on the spacecraft. (Credit: Ball Aerospace)
A green propellant propulsion subsystem was recently delivered to Ball Aerospace for integration into the Green Propellant Infusion Mission spacecraft. The subsystem will be one of three experimental payloads on the spacecraft. (Credit: Ball Aerospace)

BOULDER, Colo. (NASA PR) — Space exploration is about to go “greener.”

NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission to develop a high-performance, low-toxicity fuel and propulsion system for spacecraft has passed a major milestone. A green propellant propulsion subsystem, built by Aerojet Rocketdyne in Redmond, Washington, has been delivered to the mission’s prime contractor, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colorado.

(more…)

Video About Innovation at Mojave, NASA Armstrong & Edwards AFB

Video Caption: In this video, innovative ideas on the future of space travel and aerospace dynamics are the brainchild of Mojave Spaceport’s, Stu Witt; NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center’s David McBride and Rocket Propulsion Lab’s Mike Huggins. The importance of risk as a crucial element in progressing forward is emphasized by the foremost risk-takers in space; rocket science; aerospace and education.The role of STEM education in growing our engineers is championed by AV College Math and Science Dean, Les Uhazy, as well as the space pioneers interviewed for this project.

(more…)

Aerojet Rocketdyne to Develop Environmentally Friendly Propellants

aerojet_rocketdyne
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Feb. 24, 2015 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) – Aerojet Rocketdyne, a GenCorp (NYSE: GY) company, was awarded a contract to research and develop environmentally sustainable monopropellants and gas generators for rocket and missile propulsion and Divert Attitude Control Systems. The company is working with the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center; the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at Edwards Air Force Base; and the U.S. Army Medical Command to develop a new family of high-performing liquid propellants. The effort is funded through the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program, an office of the Department of Defense.

(more…)

USAF Research Laboratory Investigates Potential of SABRE Engine

Skylon with the SABRE engine. (Credit: Reaction Engines)
Skylon with the SABRE engine. (Credit: Reaction Engines)

Space.com reports that Reaction Engine’s SABRE propulsion system is attracting some interest in the United States:

The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory is studying hypersonic vehicles that would use the Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine (SABRE), which the English company Reaction Engines Ltd. is working on to power the Skylon space plane, AFRL officials said.

“AFRL is formulating plans to look at advanced vehicle concepts based on Reaction Engine’s heat-exchanger technology and SABRE engine concept,” officials with AFRL, which is based in Ohio, told Space.com via email last month….

The AFRL work is being carried out under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Reaction Engines that was announced in January. AFRL officials told Space.com that they are using computers to model SABRE.

“The Air Force research laboratories in the States have carried out some modeling to verify that the SABRE does actually work, that it is a real engine, and so I am hoping they are going to confirm that very soon,” [Reaction Engines Managing Director Alan] Bond said.

“This is obviously opening doors in the United States, and again, I can’t say a great deal about that, but we have very good dialogue going across the Atlantic,” he added. “In the next couple of years, it’s going to be quite exciting.”

Read the full story.

Delta IV Roars Off Pad at Cape Canaveral for ULA’s 85th Successful Flight

div_afspc4_l5
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket successfully launched the AFSPC-4 mission for the U.S. Air Force on July 28 at 7:28 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex-37. (Credit: United Launch Alliance)


Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. (ULA PR) –
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket successfully launched the AFSPC-4 mission for the U.S. Air Force on July 28 at 7:28 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex-37. This is ULA’s eighth launch in 2014, and the 85th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

“The ULA team is proud to have delivered the twin Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) spacecraft to orbit today,” said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Atlas and Delta Programs. “We are privileged to work with a top notch U.S. government and contractor mission team that is committed to mission success.”

(more…)

Generation Orbit Awarded SBIR Grant for GOLauncher 1 Hypersonic Testbed

generation_orbit_logoATLANTA, GA, JULY 9, 2014 (GO PR) – Generation Orbit Launch Services, Inc. (GO) has been awarded a Phase I Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory, Aerospace Systems Directorate (AFRL/RQ) for development of a GOLauncher 1, a single-stage air launched liquid rocket vehicle designed to fly suppressed trajectories for hypersonic flight research applications. Booster systems capable of flying suppressed trajectories increase flexibility for experimental payloads to high Mach number, high dynamic pressure test environments. The nine-month effort worth $150,000 will focus on requirements definition, configuration trade studies, and trajectory design space exploration.

(more…)

X-51 WaveRider Team Wins AIAA Foundation Award for Excellence

X-51 Waverider
X-51A WaveRider

RESTON, VA (AIAA PR)  – The X-51A WaveRider team has won the 2014 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Foundation’s Award for Excellence. The team will receive the award on April 30 at the AIAA Spotlight Awards Gala at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, in Washington, D.C.

The team is being honored “for the demonstration of the feasibility of sustained air breathing hypersonic flight by achieving a 300 second flight at Mach 5.”

(more…)