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PISA, Italy

Alta Spa | Date: 1989-05-30


Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: SPA.2010.2.1-04;SPA.2010.2.3-1 | Award Amount: 2.41M | Year: 2010

The Electric Solar Wind Sail (E-sail) is a recent invention of ultra-efficient propellantless in-space propulsion technology. It uses the solar wind charged ions as natural source for producing spacecraft thrust. The E-sail is composed of a set of long, thin, conducting and positively charged tethers which are centrifugally stretched from the main spacecraft and kept electrically charged by an onboard electron gun powered by solar panels. The E-sail concept is an enabling technology for reducing significantly the time, cost and mass required for spacecraft to reach their destinations. It has been estimated that it has the potential to improve the state of the art of propulsion systems by 2 to 3 orders of magnitude if using the lifetime integrated total impulse versus propulsion system mass as the figure of merit. Furthermore, the E-sail propulsion technology is truly a green propellantless method reducing significantly the mission launch masses and the amount of chemical propellant burnt in the atmosphere. As an electromechanical device it does not need any poisonous, explosive or radioactive substances or dangerous construction procedures. In the proposed project, we develop the key E-sail technologies (tethers, tether reels, spinup and guidance/control method based on gas and FEEP thrusters) to prototype level. The goal is that after the project, the decision to build and fly the first E-sail demonstration mission in the solar wind can be made. As a secondary technological goal, the project will raise the FEEP and gas thruster readiness level for general-purpose satellite attitude control purposes.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: SPA-2007-2.2-01;SPA-2007-2.2-02 | Award Amount: 5.36M | Year: 2008

The main objective of the HiPER project is to initiate technological and programmatic consolidation in the development of innovative electric propulsion technologies (and of the related power generation) to fulfill future European space transportation needs. The objective will be pursued by conceiving and substantiating a long term vision for European space transportation and exploration, considering realistic developments in the state-of-the-art, and by performing basic research and proof-of-concept experiments on the key technologies identified by such a vision.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: SPA.2012.2.2-02 | Award Amount: 2.60M | Year: 2013

PulCheR (Pulsed Chemical Rocket with Green High Performance Propellants) is a new propulsion concept in which the propellants are fed in the combustion chamber at low pressure and the thrust is generated by means of high frequency pulses, reproducing the defence mechanism of a notable insect: the bombardier beetle. The radical innovation introduced by PulCheR is the elimination of any external pressurizing system even if the thruster works at high pressure inside the combustion chamber. At each pulse, pressurization of the combustion chamber gases takes place due to the decomposition or combustion reaction, and the final pressure is much higher than the one at which the propellants are stored. The weight of the feeding system is significantly reduced because the propellants are fed at low pressure, and there is no need for turbopumps, high pressure propellant tanks or gas vessels. The feed pressure becomes independent on the chamber pressure and the performance degradation typical of the blow down mode in monopropellant thrusters can be avoided. The PulCheR concept is able to substitute many currently used propulsion systems for accessing space. It can be employed for low orbital flight and beyond and subsequent re-entry (allowing also for re-usable vehicles), and can be used in space vehicles for typical manoeuvres around a planet or during interplanetary missions. The feasibility of this new propulsion concept will be investigated at breadboard level in both mono and bipropellant configurations through the design, realization and testing of a platform of the overall propulsion system including all its main components. In addition, the concept will be investigated using green propellants with potential similar performance to the current state-of-the-art for monopropellant and bipropellant thrusters. The test campaign will experimentally investigate the propulsive performance of the system in terms of specific impulse, minimum impulse bit and thrust modulation.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: AAT.2010.1.1-2.;AAT.2010.6.2-1. | Award Amount: 6.54M | Year: 2011

ATLLAS II is a logical follow-up of a recently finalized FP6 project which has as objectives the identification and assessment of advanced light-weight and high-temperature resistant materials for high-speed vehicles up to Mach 6. The material requirements are first defined through an in-depth feasibility study of a Mach 5-6 vehicle. The consortium has now this capability at hand as they can rely on a first set of validated tools, material databases and valuable experience acquired during ATLLAS-I. Starting with a preliminary aero-thermal-structural high-speed vehicle design process, further multi-disciplinary optimization and testing will follow to result into a detailed layout of an independently European defined and assessed high-speed vehicle. Special attention will be given to alleviate sonic boom and emissions at high altitudes. Throughout the design process, the aero-thermal loads will define the requirements for the proposed materials and cooling techniques needed for both the airframe and propulsion components. The former will focus on sharp leading edges, intakes and skin materials each coping with different external aero-thermal loads. The latter will be exposed to internal combustion driven loads. Both metallic (Titanium Matrix Composites and Ni-based Hollow Sphere Stackings) and non-metallic materials (Ceramic Matrix Composites and Ultra High Temperature Composites) will be evaluated. Combined aero-thermal-structural experiments will test various materials as specimens and realistic shapes at extreme conditions representative for high flight Mach numbers. Both static and cyclic tests at low and high temperatures are planned including the evaluation of their durability in terms of long duration exposure to the harsh flight conditions. The materials assigned to dedicated engine components will be exposed to realistic combustion environments. These will be combined with passive or active cooling technologies developed in ATLLAS-I.

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