The approach of Space Mission Architects (SMA) for getting into space differs from other space launch companies in that we feel that liquid fuel engines are far too complex, difficult to manufacture, and are prone to multiple points of failure such as hydrogen leaks, which can easily lead to an explosion. In the case of a launch abort, liquid fuels must be offloaded and then later reloaded for another launch attempt.
Solid fuel rockets, on the other hand, can be stored fully fueled for 15-17 years, and can be brought quickly to the launch pad and launched almost immediately. They are simpler, cheaper, and more reliable than liquid fuel rockets.
The problem with solid fuels is lower thrust when compared to liquid fuels. Whereas current solid fuel rocket motors have an Isp of around 267(sl), liquid fuels such as LH2/LOX have an impressive Isp of 391(sl).
SMA is developing a revolutionary solid rocket fuel which is based on quantum physics rather than conventional chemistry. Computer modeling predicts that this new fuel will have an increase of at least 30% over conventional solid fuels, with some models predicting much higher results, even eclipsing the
performance of the best liquid fuels. This novel development is poised to change how rockets get into space across the entire space launch industry. There are DOD applications as well.
Conventional rocket nozzles are primarily made of metal. Current rocket exhaust temperatures can be as high as 3300C, which is above the melting temperature of most metals. The nozzles must therefore be cooled by some means such as ablation or regenerative cooling. This adds to the weight and complexity of the nozzle.
SMA is introducing a new line of nozzles which eliminates these problems. Our new nozzles are made of a high temperature ceramic which can withstand nearly 4000C without any cooling required. This greatly simplifies the nozzle design. In addition, there is a marked reduction in the weight of the nozzle since no cooling apparatus is required.
We have taken things a step further and created foam rather than solid ceramics. This allows for an 85% reduction in weight of the nozzle.
Computer modeling of the effect of this weight reduction indicates that, for a three stage rocket, 4% more payload can be launched into orbit with no increase in the mass of fuel. These lightweight, high temperature nozzles have their primary application in space launch vehicles, both in main engines and boosters. The nozzles can be manufactured in any size.
At SMA, we are constantly looking for new and innovate ways to improve rocket and space launch technology. Here’s what’s next on the drawing board.
At first it may seem to be a contradiction that we would be working on liquid fuels as we are big proponents of solid fuel rockets. However, liquid fuel rockets have their place. Unlike solid fuel motors, liquid fuel engines can be stopped and restarted easily. Thus, they are useful for such applications as thrusters, and as an upper stage where precise maneuverability is needed.
As with current solid fuels, there is room for improvement. On our design board is a hypergolic liquid fuel which, like our solid fuel, will have an Isp greater than anything currently available.
Hypergolics need no ignition source, so another potential point of failure is eliminated. In addition, our new fuel is stable at ambient temperature. Thus, no cryogenic cooling is needed. A rocket can remain fueled in case of an aborted launch. Unlike hydrogen, fuel fitting leaks will be next to none due to the larger molecular size of our fuel.
Insulating materials have a wide variety of applications in the space industry. With many manufacturers currently using carbon fiber bodies for solid rockets, a means of protecting the outer body from the hot burning fuel must be utilized. Reentry vehicles can experience temperatures close to 2900C. For a Mach 5 aircraft, the number is about 1900C. ICBMs can experience even higher temperatures.
SMA’s thermal insulating material has been tested at 2000C for 30 minutes with only a five degree (C) gradient. Testing at higher temperatures with high powered laser beams will be done in the future.
A distinct advantage of our proprietary material is that it can be applied to curved and irregular surfaces due to its extreme flexibility.
SMA also plans future research into: