Carbon-based Mars ISRU Rocket Technology (CMIRT)

Period of Performance: 01/01/2001 - 12/31/2001


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Orbital Technologies Corp.(orbitec)
Space Center, 1212 Fourier Drive
Madison, WI 53717
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


The innovation is a unique Carbon-based Mars ISRU Rocket Technology (CMIRT) that can greatly reduce vehicle size, complexity, support systems, and Earth launch mass requirements for a variety of human and robotic Mars missions, where propulsion systems use propellants from indigenous materials on Mars. CMIRT propellants are simply derived from the CO2 or H2O in the Mars atmosphere or from H2O found in the Mars soil or subsurface. The CMIRT innova-tion consists of efficiently packaged solid carbon-based fuel (with various percentages of hydrogen)/liquid oxygen inte-grated into ORBITEC's cryogenic hybrid with a vortex feed system. The ISRU-based propellant family and the unique vortex-fed hybrid propulsion system approach proposed here has many advantages over other Earth-derived propellants and conventional propulsion systems. ORBITEC's experience and capability in advanced propulsion and ISRU sys-tems will allow much to be accomplished during the Phase I effort. During Phase, I ORBITEC proposes to: (1) conduct test firings in the ORBITEC Mark II hybrid engine to measure regression rates of the carbon-based propellants, (2) de-sign the vortex advanced cryogenic hybrid engine that will integrate into the Mark II system, (3) construct/fabricate and test the vortex advanced cryogenic hybrid engine, (4) conduct test firings in the vortex engine, and (5) analyze test firing results and recommend Phase II propellant selection and flexible propulsion systems that can use many of the carbon-based fuels with oxygen. Phase II will result in the final designs, construction, parametric testing, and larger-scale test firings of selected CMIRT propellant systems.