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Development and Short-Range Testing of a 100 kW Side-Illuminated Millimeter-Wave Thermal RocketThe objective of the phase described here of the Millimeter-Wave Thermal Launch System (MTLS) Project was to launch a small thermal rocket into the air using millimeter waves. The preliminary results of the first MTLS flight vehicle launches are presented in this work. The design and construction of a small thermal rocket with a planar ceramic heat exchanger mounted along the axis of the rocket is described. The heat exchanger was illuminated from the side by a millimeter-wave beam and fed propellant from above via a small tank containing high pressure argon or nitrogen. Short-range tests where the rocket was launched, tracked, and heated with the beam are described. The rockets were approximately 1.5 meters in length and 65 millimeters in diameter, with a liftoff mass of 1.8 kilograms. The rocket airframes were coated in aluminum and had a parachute recovery system activated via a timer and Pyrodex. At the rocket heat exchanger, the beam distance was 40 meters with a peak power intensity of 77 watts per square centimeter. and a total power of 32 kilowatts in a 30 centimeter diameter circle. An altitude of approximately 10 meters was achieved. Recommendations for improvements are discussed.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Ames Research Center
Document Type
Technical Memorandum (TM)
Bruccoleri, Alexander
(Izentis, LLC Cambridge, MA, United States)
Eilers, James A.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Lambot, Thomas
(Carnegie-Mellon Univ. Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Parkin, Kevin
(Carnegie-Mellon Univ. Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 12, 2015
Publication Date
April 1, 2015
Subject Category
Launch Vehicles And Launch Operations
Spacecraft Propulsion And Power
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 804911.
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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