Saturday, January 3, 2015

NASA Technology Transfer for Orbital Launchers.

Copyright 2015 Robert Clark

 NASA's Technology Transfer Program intends to partner with U.S. companies to commercialize technology developed at NASA. One example is the autonomous landing system for robotic lunar landers (ALHAT) developed by NASA which will be used by the Moon Express team for their Google Lunar X-prize entrant. 

 I suggest another example that has more important commercialization potential are the methane engines developed for NASA's Project Morpheus robotic lunar lander. The Firefly launch company intends to make small methane fueled orbital launchers. The largest single development cost for a launcher are usually the engines. By using the engines already developed for the Morpheus lander for the Firefly, a significant proportion could be cut from the development cost.

  Bob Clark


  1. To comply with the specifications the Stage 2 would need 2 engines.

    Engine / FRE-1
    Propellant / LOx / methane
    Cycle / Pressure-fed (autogenous)
    Configuration / Conventional bell
    Thrust (vac) / 10,000 lbf (44.5 kN)
    lsp (vac) / 335 sec

    1. True, but the plan for the Firefly is to use multiple engines on the first stage so multiple ones on the second stage is doable.
      BTW, another start-up, an off-shoot of Armadillo Aerospace, also could make use of these engines:

      Armadillo Aerospace Vets Start New Space Company - SpaceNews ...
      May 19, 2014 - Exos Aerospace formally announced its plans at an event May 14 at Armadillo's former facilities at the Caddo Mills Municipal Airport northeast ...

      Bob Clak

  2. Replies
    1. Corrected the URL in the comment above.

      Bob Clark