Research and Technologies for Aerospace Propulsion Systems 2 (RTAPS2) – NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH

Picture15Sierra Lobo, Inc. (SLI) is proud to offer the NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC) and their customers a space propulsion division fully capable of executing the Space Propulsion Technology Area Statement of Work under the Research and Technologies for Aerospace Propulsion Systems (RTAPS2) contract. Our team of Critical Subcontractors and Specialty Vendors capture the heritage of the Nation’s space propulsion expertise and bring experience with the development of leading-edge space propulsion technologies. Our effective and efficient approach to assess, plan, manage, and execute the RTAPS2 contract local to NASA GRC at the TDEC facility in Milan, Ohio, enables a rapid, in-person response to all RTAPS2 task orders. SLI’s skills and our team’s depth and breadth bring capabilities across all required technical areas. We use standards, processes, and program organization to deliver high-quality space propulsion systems engineering, designs, software, and hardware applicable to space propulsion.

Our Capabilities

SLI’s space propulsion development capabilities draw on our quality assurance and project management experiences (which led to a NASA George M. Low award) on the NASA GRC Test Facilities Operations, Maintenance, and Engineering contract, our Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Advanced Research and Engineering Services contract supporting the Aerospace Systems Directorate where we conduct space propulsion studies, research, development, and hardware testing, and our Technology Development and Engineering Center (TDEC), winner of two R&D 100 awards for cryogenic propellant systems applicable to space propulsion.

Contract Information:

Research and Technologies for Aerospace Propulsion Systems 2 (RTAPS2)

NASA Glenn Research Center

21000 Brookpark Road

Cleveland, Ohio  44135

Contract Number:  #NNC15BA14B

RTAPS 2 Program Manager:

Dr. Phil Putman

Manager, Research and Technology

11401 Hoover Road

Milan, Ohio  44846

(419) 499-9653 Ext. 164


Element 2.2.1              Propulsion System Design and Trade Studies

The Contractor shall execute design and trade studies to develop system concepts and architectures, and to evaluate and compare propulsion options (component and system) for mission applications of interest. This includes, but is not limited to, analyses that address structural, thermal, performance, mass/power estimation, actuation and controls, and integration issues.

Element 2.2.2        Liquid Engine Systems

Develop liquid engine technology for systems and components including injectors, combustion chambers, nozzles, pre-burners and other pre-conditioning gas generator systems, turbomachinery (including fuel and oxidizer pumps and turbines), propellant management components (valves, regulators, filters, propellant management devices), ignition systems (including subcomponents such as exciters, spark plugs and other ignition sources), instrumentation (pressure, temperature, flow meters, sensors, and the like), and gimbals.

The hypergolic propellants of interest include, but are not limited to, hydrazine (N2H4), nitrogen tetroxide (NTO), and monomethylhydrazine (MMH). Nontoxic monopropellant options may include formulations using an ionic salt, such as hydroyxlammonium nitrate or ammonium dinitramide, nitrous oxide fuel blends, and hydrogen peroxide. Nontoxic bipropellant options likely will include oxygen as the oxidizer, with hydrocarbons, alcohols, or hydrogen as the fuel. The Contractor shall also have the ability to develop new propellant formulations and perform properties assessments.

Element 2.2.3              Propellant Systems

     Cryogenic Propellant Systems

Investigate cryogenic and gaseous propellants including liquid or gaseous oxygen (LO2), liquid or gaseous methane (LCH4) and/or liquid or gaseous hydrogen (LH2) for the in space portions of the missions. Develop advanced propellant system concepts that enable the propellant inventory, supply vapor free propellant to Reaction Control Systems (RCS) thrusters and the Main Propulsion System (MPS) engines of the vehicle, and develop advanced cryogenic storage technologies to reduce the propellant losses due to environmental heating as a result of anticipated on-orbit storage durations of months to years.

For concepts that will require the cryogenic propellant inventory in the vehicles to be maintained, the Contractor shall develop technologies to address propellant storage during ground hold, the launch transient, a long-term quiescent in-space period, trans-lunar/Mars injection and while in orbit. The Contractor shall develop technologies to deliver the cryogenic propellants in a vapor free condition to the Reaction Control Systems (RCS) thrusters and the Main Propulsion System (MPS) engines of the vehicle. The Contractor shall develop and mature, coupled with the ground hold and launch transient time periods. The Contractor shall have prior experience in the development, design, manufacturing, test, integration, and flight application of cryogenic and gaseous fluid management technologies for space propulsion systems.

Element 2.2.3              Propellant Systems

     Non-cryogenic (Earth-storable) Propellant Systems

Investigate propellant system architectures such as monopropellant, bipropellant, and dual-mode systems that use propellants such as hydrazine (N2H4), nitrogen tetroxide (NTO), and monomethylhydrazine (MMH). Develop advanced propellant system concepts that enable the propellant inventory, use composite tankage, pumping systems, and thermal control systems.

The vehicles are to be maintained during ground hold, the launch transient, a long-term quiescent in-space period, trans-lunar/Mars injection and while in orbit. The Contractor shall develop advanced propellant storage systems with low mass fraction, such as composite based propellant storage tanks. The Contractor shall also develop advanced systems to raise engine inlet manifold pressure, such as pumping systems separate from the engine, to significantly improve the state-of-the-art in propellant delivery systems by decoupling engine inlet pressure from tank storage pressure. The Contractor shall also develop advanced thermal control systems to maintain propellant temperatures above their freezing point while consuming a minimum of power for long duration missions.

Element 2.2.4              Electric Propulsion

Conduct research and development in electric propulsion systems and components. Research to support NASA investments made for high-power solar array and electric propulsion systems for robotic as well as human exploration of the solar system.

Electric propulsion has been identified as a key technology required for an affordable path to human exploration. Investments have been made in high-power solar array and electric propulsion systems by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate with potential mission infusion on a Solar Electric Propulsion Technology Demonstration Mission and the Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission. Exploration architecture roadmaps are being developed that utilize the Asteroid Redirect Robotic Vehicle and its extensible derivative. Electric propulsion is a key technology with the potential to support both NASA’s Science Mission Directorate and Human Exploration and Operations Directorate. Electric propulsion is the baseline primary propulsion for a number of mission concepts presently under development for both Planetary Sciences and Astrophysics, and has the potential to support Earth Science and Heliophysics for missions requiring high total impulse.

Element 2.2.5              Rocket-Based Combined Cycle Propulsion Systems

Conduct research and development in Rocket-Based Combined-Cycle (RBCC) propulsion system technologies. RBCC propulsion systems offer the potential for improved safety (robustness), increased payload, reduced vehicle size and/or reduced costs for future launch vehicles due to the higher propellant efficiency as compared to all-rocket systems. Research to include propulsion integration, trajectory optimization, and the implementation of advanced structures, materials, active cooling and thermal protection relevant to RBCC systems.

Rocket-based combined cycles air-breathing engines such as ramjets and scramjets are integrated with rocket engines to enable use of atmospheric oxygen for a portion of the flight. The Contractor shall conduct research and development on critical components of the RBCC propulsion system such as:  advanced inlets, diverters, mixers/combustors, nozzles, and steady or unsteady pulsed rocket thrusters.

Element 2.2.6        Advanced Propulsion Systems

Conduct research and development in advanced propulsion technologies that reduce system cost, risk, and complexity to enable more challenging space missions, increase payload mass delivery, and/or reduce overall spacecraft mass.

Technologies should demonstrate advances in system efficiency, specific mass, reliability, and service lifetime relative to state-of-the-art propulsion systems and have the ability to perform all work in one or more of the Technology Areas as authorized in each task order issued. Candidate technologies may span from low-power precision propulsion to multi-megawatt system architectures.




About Sierra Lobo, Inc.

Founded in 1993, Sierra Lobo, Inc. (SLI) employs more than 500 high-achieving, dedicated engineers, technicians, and administrative personnel. SLI is a Hispanic-American-owned, small disadvantaged business with its corporate office in Fremont, Ohio. Sierra Lobo is a two-time winner of NASA’s most prestigious quality award, the George M. Low award, most recently in 2011. SLI is also a winner of two R&D 100 Awards for development of advanced technologies. Sierra Lobo received certification to the International Aerospace Quality Group AS9100 standards. Additionally, SLI is International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9001:2008 registered as “A Provider of Engineering and Technical Services, including Hardware Fabrication and Testing, to the Aerospace and Transportation Industries.” An independent rating authority independently assessed SLI a Capability Maturity Model Integrated (CMMI®-DEV) Capability Level 2 fully compliant and Level 3 compliant in Risk Management.