Orbit Transfer Rocket Engine Technology Program. Automated Preflight Methods Concept Definition. Task E.7

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Page : 109 pages

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Orbit transfer engine preflight requirements were defined and a range of possible preflight methods were proposed. Critical issues and benefits were also identified for each method and technology readiness and development costs addressed. It would be advantageous in a space based setting to minimize or entirely eliminate preflight engine checkouts requiring manual/extravehicular interaction with the hardware. This study investigated the possibility of automating these checkouts. The minimum requirements in terms of information and processing necessary to assess the engine's integrity and readiness to perform its mission were first defined. A variety of ways of remotely obtaining that information, spanning a range of method sophistications were then generated. The sophistication of these approaches varied from a simple preliminary power up, where the engine is fired up for a short time, to the most advanced approach where the sensor and operational history data system alone indicates engine integrity. Critical issues and benefits of each of these methods were also identified, outlined, and prioritized. The technology readiness of these automated preflight methods were then rated on a NASA Office of Exploration Scale used for comparing technology options for future mission choices. Finally estimates were made of the remaining cost to advance the technology for each method to a level where the system validation models have been demonstrated in a simulated environment.

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