Propulsion

Access our comprehensive library of technical briefs on propulsion, from engineering experts at NASA and government, university, and commercial laboratories.

The new technology demonstrates a 20 percent savings in fuel in typical passenger car low-load operating conditions.
Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
SMART Solar Sail
The miniaturized, autonomous, reconfigurable solar sail is capable of very fine maneuvering by small surface deformation.
This method provides a fast way to assess rocket engine performance in a variety of operating conditions.
Briefs: Propulsion
Bio-Inspired Propulsion
Frequencies and passive dynamics of vehicles moving in air or water help enhance propulsion performance.
Briefs: Propulsion
Supersonic Spike Diffuser
This diffuser provides double the pumping efficiency in one-quarter the space.
Briefs: Green Design & Manufacturing
Green Jet Fuel Additive Made from Acetone Plus Light
The additive creates fuel from biomass while improving engine performance.
Electric motors and gas-alcohol engines could slash pollution levels and greenhouse gases from long-haul trucks.
These louvers provide passive thermal cooling for CubeSats.
Briefs: Semiconductors & ICs
Superconductivity in a Nickel Oxide Material
Made with “Jenga chemistry,” the material could help in understanding how high-temperature superconductors work.
This technology provides simultaneous ohmic contacts and the process to make them.
Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
De-Orbit Device for SmallSats
This retractable de-orbit device facilitates targeted re-entry, attitude and orbital control, and collision avoidance.

A numerical modeling tool allows for a better understanding of rotating detonation engines (RDEs).

Microrobots that can deliver drugs to specific spots inside the body while being monitored and controlled from outside the body have been developed that also can treat tumors in the...

Landing is stressful on a rocket’s legs because they must handle the force from the impact with the landing pad. One way to combat this is to build legs out of materials that absorb some of...

Briefs: Propulsion
Inductive Power Transfer for Spaceflight Systems

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center has developed technology that uses inductive power transfer (IPT) for wireless power interfaces between spaceflight elements (such as the payload, vehicle, and pad). Current spaceflight systems require traditional hardwire connections for power interfaces. This...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Double-Fed Induction Linear Alternator

This technology was developed to address the limitations of traditional, single-fed linear alternators that require permanent magnets, adhesive bonding organics, and heavy iron laminations for flux control. They experience eddy-current losses and require electromagnetic interference protection. Furthermore,...

Directly converting electrical power to heat is easy; however, converting heat into electrical power is not as easy. To address this issue, a tiny silicon-based device was developed that can...

Briefs: Propulsion
Improved Directed Flux Motor

Electromagnetic motors typically convert electrical energy into rotational mechanical energy and are employed across a wide array of applications. While motors represent relatively mature technology, practitioners continue to seek ways to enhance motor operation including a decrease in cost, drop in size/weight,...

Mechanical systems such as engines and motors rely on two principal types of motions of stiff components: linear motion, which involves an object moving from one point to another in a straight...

Making electric cars lighter also involves reducing the weight of the motor. One way to do that is by constructing it from fiber-reinforced polymer materials. A new cooling concept...

Recent technical advances have enabled flywheel energy storage systems (FESS) to become more compact and able to support higher-power applications. Due to their proven...

An optical setup developed by researchers at Sandia's Combustion Research Facility and the Technical University of Denmark can now quantify the formation of soot — particulate matter consisting...

Briefs: Communications
Interoperable Intelligent Controllers for Process Management and Control Networks

NASA Johnson Space Center developed reprogrammable and interchangeable electronic controllers that can attach to a system or subsystem wirelessly or through plug-and-play capability. Originally designed to work with rocket engines, this technology can control...

Briefs: Propulsion
Green Electric Monopropellant (GEM)-Fueled Pulsed Plasma Thruster

NASA required a rocket thruster able to produce a number of pulses at high specific impulse at a relatively low voltage (~300 to 400V). The key problem was that existing propellants for liquid-fueled pulsed plasma thrusters (LPPTs) required high voltages to ablate and accelerate...

Briefs: Propulsion
Real-Time, Fuel-Optimal, Powered Descent Guidance Using Interpolated Time-of-Flight and Propellant Mass

Soft landing using rockets requires a trajectory to be planned for the lander from rocket ignition — typically several kilometers in altitude and moving at up to 200 m/s — to the point near the surface with near-zero velocity. The exact...

Briefs: Propulsion
Small-Body Dynamics Toolkit Version 5.0

The Small-Body Dynamics Toolkit (SBDT) v5.0 is a collection of primitive-body-specific trajectory design and analysis tools written in MATLAB®. The SBDT gives the user the capabilities to propagate, analyze, and visualize spacecraft trajectories and the dynamical environment near realistic asteroid,...

Briefs: Software
Sublimable Propellant Source for Iodine-Fed Ion Propulsion System

NASA Marshall has developed a system for generating iodine vapor from solid iodine for use as a propellant in a Hall or ion thruster propulsion system. Xenon has generally been the preferred propellant for these spacecraft ion propulsion systems but more recently, iodine-based...

Briefs: Energy
Fuel Cell/Fuel Cell Hybrid System

Fuel cells can deliver clean, reliable, and uninterrupted power nearly 100 percent of the time. Fuel cells offer the advantage of efficiency by converting chemical energy directly to electricity. They have no moving parts, thereby eliminating failures associated with pumps, blowers, heat exchangers, and other...

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