Objective: The charter of the Spacecraft Propulsion Subcommittee addresses technical problems and issues of national needs associated with technology applied to space-based primary or auxiliary propulsion. These issues (for both system and component level) include design, development, materials, lifetime, performance, ground testing, flight testing, validation, qualification, spacecraft integration, fabrication processes, standards and cost. Spacecraft propulsion technology issues examined include: chemical propulsion, aerocapture, electric propulsion, nuclear thermal propulsion, propellant management, solar sails, solar thermal propulsion, tether systems, and in-space propulsion infrastructure. Possible applications to these technologies are orbit to orbit transfer, attitude control, non-terrestrial ascent/descent, station keeping, deep space, formation flying, drag makeup and orbital re-phasing.

SPS Mission Areas

The 8th JANNAF Spacecraft Propulsion Subcommittee (SPS) seeks abstracts on the full array of spacecraft propulsion technology interests including electric propulsion, chemical propulsion, micro-thrust propulsion, solar thermal propulsion, nuclear thermal propulsion, aerocapture, solar sails, tether systems, and technologies for the future.

Mission Area I: Chemical Propulsion

Mr. A. Paul Zuttarelli, AFRL/Edwards AFB
Telephone:   (661) 275-6786

Dr. Matthew Deans, NASA-GRC/Cleveland
Telephone:   (216) 433-6585

Ms. Caitlin A. Bacha, NASA-GSFC/Greenbelt
Telephone:   (301) 286-6217

Papers are invited that cover all areas of chemical propulsion including monopropellant, bipropellant, gel, solid, and hybrid chemical propulsion systems. Some current areas of interest include, but are not limited to, green propellants and propulsion system developments for modern spacecraft.

Decreased toxicity monopropellant thruster technology development has been of primary interest for spacecraft applications in the last decade. Monopropellant technology is of critical importance to spacecraft operations and principally relies upon catalyst technology.

New propulsion system architecture approaches are being pursued to reduce cost and/or enable new capabilities. Also, reuse or modification of existing propulsion systems and components has been an ongoing and emerging area of development. This includes the reuse of heritage components and developments in reusable vehicles, systems, or components.

Increasing community knowledge of lessons learned and the relative impact of forthcoming technologies and approaches will support the transition and evolution of these propulsion approaches. Papers are solicited on the following topics of particular interest for sessions supporting spacecraft chemical propulsion.

Propellant Factors -
  • Formulation, pre-cursor considerations, synthesis, and quality control measures
  • Propellant advantages, disadvantages and their impact to operations (ground and flight)
  • Propellant (decreased toxicity and state of the art) storage and management
  • Decomposition, kinetics, and combustion environment impact to materials and duty cycle
  • Impact of propellant impurities on performance including catalytic life
Thruster/Engine/Component Factors -
  • Impact of propellant impurities on performance including catalytic life
  • Injection technologies and concerns such as propellant atomization or dispersion
  • Decomposition and ignition means for all areas of chemical propulsion including:
    • Development and performance of alternative catalysts, substrate, and active materials with respect to response and life limiting factors
    • Augmented catalytic and non-catalytic decomposition for monopropellants
  • Developments and issues in the reuse, modernization, and/or requalification of components
  • Integrated performance and operations including:
    • Duty and thermal cycle impacts to response, repeatability, and useful life
    • Relationship of propellant conditions, component design, and ignition factors
    • Effectiveness in modeling variation of performance for system design and mission planning
System/Mission Factors -
  • Throttleable and pulsed system delivered performance
  • Propulsion system architecture considerations, configuration trades, and mission optimization
  • Propulsion system operations, diagnostics, and failure management
  • Operational condition concerns such as conditioning of propellants
  • Status, infusion viability, and impact of new propulsion technology and pathfinder activities

Mission Area II: Electric Propulsion

Dr. Hani Kamhawi, NASA-GRC/Cleveland
Telephone:   (216) 977-7435

Dr. Robert B. Lobbia, AFRL/Edwards AFB
Telephone:   (661) 275-6274

Papers are invited in all areas of electric propulsion (including solar- and nuclear-powered systems). Topics of interest include:

  • Basic Research and Development of Electric Propulsion Thrusters: This area includes physics of electric propulsion processes, thruster technology development, advanced and breakthrough concepts, high-power electric propulsion, hybrid and dual-mode systems using electric propulsion, alternate propellant research, laboratory and flight plasma diagnostic techniques, and electric propulsion test facilities.
  • Systems Engineering of Electric Propulsion Subsystems: This includes electric propulsion subsystem design, propellant storage and feed systems development, power processing units design and testing, navigation and control systems development, and integrated system testing of electric propulsion subsystems.
  • Electric Propulsion Flight Programs: This includes reporting on ground and flight system operations, space qualification programs, and in-flight programs status.
  • Modeling of Electric Propulsion Thrusters, Plume, and Spacecraft Interaction: This includes modeling of the physics of electric propulsion thrusters, modeling of thruster and spacecraft interactions, development of plume models, and development of models to validate ground and flight measurements and operations.

Mission Area III: Cube / Nano Satellite Propulsion

Dr. Juergen Mueller, JPL/Pasadena
Telephone:   (818) 354-4755

Dr. William A. Hargus, Jr., AFRL/Edwards AFB
Telephone:   (661) 275-6799

Papers are invited to discuss micro-propulsion and propulsion options for CubeSATS, NanoSATS, and other small satellites. Applications, concepts, and designs for propulsion systems or components in small satellites are of interest. Of particular interest are papers on components such as valves, tankage, propellant feed parts, and power conditioning for micro-propulsion applications. Other areas of interest include:

  • Micro-propulsion
  • Nano-propulsion
  • Micro-thrust devices
  • Cube satellite applications
  • Micro satellite applications
  • Nano-satellite applications
  • Cube/Micro/Nano satellite propulsion systems
  • Small component development and design for small propulsion applications
  • Power conditioning for micro-EP applications
  • System-level integration studies
  • Mission design studies
  • Nano-satellite applications

Mission Area IV: Future Technologies

Dr. Kurt A. Polzin, NASA-MSFC/Huntsville
Telephone:   (256) 544-5513

Co-Chairs:   TBD

Session includes all aspects of Nuclear Thermal Rocket (NTR) propulsion design, testing, and utilization for future human exploration missions of the solar system. Topics of interest for these sessions include, but are not limited to the following topics:

  • NTR spacecraft and mission design for human Mars Exploration mission
  • Solid core NTR concepts with or without bimodal capability
  • Common reactor design for both propulsion and surface power generation
  • Candidate nuclear fuel options
  • Reactor controls and shielding
  • NTR test methods and facilities
  • NTR demonstration options
  • Safety, reliability, risk analysis and crew-rating
  • NTR vehicle operations and costs

Key focus areas of Solar Thermal Propulsion are engines and concentrators with specific interest in the following topics:

  • Engine concepts (thermal storage, direct gain, bimodal, volumetric, etc.)
  • Engine support structures, insulation techniques, and materials
  • Inflatable, deployable or rigidizing and secondary concentrations
  • Reflectors
  • Engine/concentrator integration and alignment
  • Sun acquisition
  • Sun tracking and pointing
  • Mission concepts and applications utilizing a solar thermal propulsion system to enable new mission scenarios or to enhance current mission capabilities.

Sessions include advanced concepts for both near- and far-term future space propulsion. Specific topics include technologies that promise significant gains in specific impulse, and/or power density, but are based on known fundamental physics, such as:

  • Fusion Energy in Space Propulsion including conventional magnetic schemes, inertial fusion schemes, inertial electrostatic confinement, magnetically insulated inertial fusion, fission-fusion hybrid systems, and concepts that utilize fusion reaction directly or indirectly.
  • High-energy fuels
  • Use of antimatter in propulsion systems
  • Laser or microwave propulsion
  • Mass drivers

Session includes solar sail propulsion, electrodynamic and momentum exchange tether propulsion, aerocapture and other innovative technologies that use the natural environments of space to derive propulsion without the expenditure of conventional fuel. Atmospheric entry and thermal protection systems are also of interest.

  • Review or summary of previous flight experiments
  • Planned and/or funded missions
  • Near-term mission concepts
  • Advanced mission concepts
  • Innovative system or subsystem designs
  • Guidance, navigation and control
  • Space environmental effects

Sessions include atmospheric entry and thermal protection systems.

  • Development, characterization, modeling and testing of TPS materials

Mission Area V: Spacecraft Modeling and Simulation

Dr. Justin Koo, AFRL/Edwards AFB
Telephone:   (661) 275-5908

Virtually all the mission areas represented at JANNAF SPS have some Modeling and Simulation(M&S) activity as an essential, yet underrepresented, component of successful technology development. We strongly encourage prospective authors to develop separate M&S papers, in addition to mission area specific papers, so that knowledge of the unique and promising computational aspect of SPS can be disseminated throughout the community. These include computational models for physical behavior, innovative numerical methods, development of robust computational validation techniques and exploitation of novel hardware configurations. Topics of particular interest to the organizing committee are those supporting: catalyst development; electromagnetic and electrostatic thruster development; prediction of plume signatures and spacecraft/plume interaction behavior.

Spacecraft Propulsion Subcommittee Chair

Mr. David T. Jacobson, NASA-GRC/Cleveland
Telephone:   (216) 433-3691

Spacecraft Propulsion Subcommittee Deputy Chair

Dr. William A. Hargus Jr., AFRL/Edwards AFB
Telephone:   (661) 275-6799

JHU WSE ERG Technical Representative

Mr. David Owen, JHU WSE ERG/Columbia
Telephone:   (443) 718-5006