NASA awards advanced development grants for Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket

WASHINGTON, 15 Jan. 2013. NASA executives awarded roughly $2.25 million in grants for advanced development activities related to the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket.

Nine universities will shared in the grant funds under this NASA Research Announcement, designed to deliver innovative and affordable solutions to evolve the launch vehicle from its initial lift capability to a larger, future version of the rocket, which will carry humans farther into deep space. The period of performance for these grants will be one year with as many as two one-year options.

"Partnering with academia on SLS advanced concepts brings new ideas and vitality to NASA and expands the SLS team of rocket scientists beyond just the agency," says William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

NASA sought proposals in a variety of areas, including concept development, avionics, trades and analyses, propulsion, structures, materials, manufacturing, and software.

The selected proposals include:

-- "High Electric Density Device for Aerospace Applications," Auburn University

-- "Challenges Towards Improved Friction Stir Welds Using On-line Sensing of Weld Quality," Louisiana State University

-- "A New Modeling Approach for Rotating Cavitation Instabilities in Rocket Engine Turbopumps," Massachusetts Institute of Technology

-- "Algorithmic Enhancements for High-Resolution Hybrid RANS-LES Using Loci-CHEM," Mississippi State University

-- "Characterization of Aluminum/Alumina/Carbon Interactions under Simulated Rocket Motor Conditions," Pennsylvania State University

-- "Development of Subcritical Atomization Models in the Loci Framework for Liquid Rocket Injectors," University of Florida

-- "Validation of Supersonic Film Cooling Numerical Simulations Using Detailed Measurements and Novel Diagnostics," University of Maryland

-- "Advanced LES and Laser Diagnostics to Model Transient Combustion-Dynamical Processes in Rocket Engines: Prediction of Flame Stabilization and Combustion-Instabilities," University of Michigan

-- "Acoustic Emission-Based Health Monitoring of Space Launch System Structures," University of Utah

"As we make tangible progress on the initial launch vehicle, our advanced development team is formulating concepts for an evolved version of the rocket," explains Todd May, SLS Program manager at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

The SLS is designed to be flexible for launching payloads and spacecraft, including NASA's Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, which will take humans beyond low-Earth orbit. The rocket will enable deep-space exploration goals and create new possibilities for scientific discovery.

The first flight test of NASA's SLS, which will feature a configuration for a 77-ton lift capacity, is scheduled for 2017 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

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