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Affordable Development and Demonstration of a Small NTR Engine and Stage: How Small is Big Enough?In FY11, NASA formulated a plan for Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) development that included Foundational Technology Development followed by system-level Technology Demonstrations The ongoing NTP project, funded by NASAs Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) program, is focused on Foundational Technology Development and includes 5 key task activities:(1) Fuel element fabrication and non-nuclear validation testing of heritage fuel options;(2) Engine conceptual design;(3) Mission analysis and engine requirements definition;(4) Identification of affordable options for ground testing; and(5) Formulation of an affordable and sustainable NTP development program Performance parameters for Point of Departure designs for a small criticality-limited and full size 25 klbf-class engine were developed during FYs 13-14 using heritage fuel element designs for both RoverNERVA Graphite Composite (GC) and Ceramic Metal (Cermet) fuel forms To focus the fuel development effort and maximize use of its resources, the AES program decided, in FY14, that a leader-follower down selection between GC and cermet fuel was required An Independent Review Panel (IRP) was convened by NASA and tasked with reviewing the available fuel data and making a recommendation to NASA. In February 2015, the IRP recommended and the AES program endorsed GC as the leader fuel In FY14, a preliminary development schedule DDTE plan was produced by GRC, DOE industry for the AES program. Assumptions, considerations and key task activities are presented here Two small (7.5 and 16.5 klbf) engine sizes were considered for ground and flight technology demonstration within a 10-year timeframe; their ability to support future human exploration missions was also examined and a recommendation on a preferred size is provided.
Document ID
Document Type
Borowski, S. K.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Sefcik, R. J.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Fittje, J. E.
(Vantage Partners, LLC Brook Park, OH, United States)
McCurdy, D. R.
(Vantage Partners, LLC Brook Park, OH, United States)
Qualls, A. L.
(Oak Ridge National Lab. TN, United States)
Schnitzler, B. G.
(Oak Ridge National Lab. TN, United States)
Werner, J.
(Idaho National Lab. Idaho Falls, ID, United States)
Weitzberg, A.
Joyner, C. R.
(Aerojet Rocketdyne, Inc. Arlington, VA, United States)
Date Acquired
November 17, 2015
Publication Date
September 1, 2015
Subject Category
Spacecraft Design, Testing And Performance
Spacecraft Propulsion And Power
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: AIAA Space & Astronautics Forum & Exposition (Space 2015)
Location: Pasadena, CA
Country: United States
Start Date: August 31, 2015
End Date: September 2, 2015
Sponsors: American Inst. of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 279585.
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
spacecraft design
lunar flyby mission
nuclear rocket engines
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