Donald Durm III
The Composite Materials and Structures Laboratory (CMSL), under the Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering Department has a need to rapidly characterize ablative properties of composite materials to select an appropriate material for use in solid rocket motor nozzles. In particular, the materials will need to undergo testing in a high temperature environment containing highly abrasive aluminum particles impacting the surface of the composites in order to mimic the conditions found when firing a solid rocket motor. Making a composite rocket nozzle and firing a solid rocket motor for testing is extremely cost prohibitive, time consuming, inconsistent and dangerous (due to the use of solid propellants). In addition, test firing a complete nozzle can only be performed once, since the firing destroys the nozzle. In order to mitigate the hazard, cost per test, and the consistency of testing, the CMSL is requesting the design and development of a “Simulated Solid Rocket Motor.” This will test the materials in a flat plate form, eliminating the need to manufacture complex and expensive rocket nozzles, allowing multiple tests to be conducted in a relatively short period of time.
The objective of this project is to design, develop, and build a prototype of a Simulated Solid Rocket
Motor (SSRM). A “simulated” solid rocket motor will actually be a bi-propellant gaseous/liquid motor with a particulate injection system to provide the abrasive properties of solid propellants. This configuration will enable the heat transfer and amount of abrasive material to be closely controlled, allowing CMSL to quickly characterize composites. The prototype will consist of the gaseous/liquid motor, and a mounting system that will place the composite material sample directly in the exhaust plume of the motor. Also included in the design, will be the control and monitoring systems for the rocket motor, fuel/oxidizer feed systems, and ground support equipment used to secure the motor for firing.
The Projected cost of the project is $9000.00 and is to be mitigated by support from various companies including Lockheed Martin, Porter Instruments, Dynetics, and others.
Vaughn Associates and Porter Instruments
Vaughn Associates Sales Manager William B. Weeks Jr. was contacted and he assisted in acquiring the support from Porter Instruments by working with Mike Marsceill Product Manager.