Mechanical/​Mechatronics

Propulsion

Explore the key advances impacting propulsion technologies and applications involved in aircraft propulsion, turbo-electric distributed propulsion, and hybrid electric aircraft propulsion systems.

Latest Briefs & News

Articles : Electronics & Computers
NASA at 60: Celebrating Success

Over the past 60 years, NASA scientists and engineers have developed many advanced technologies and processes. But NASA has also partnered with industry, using commercially available products to complete its missions. Here, some of those companies join NASA in celebrating these collaborative successes.

Articles : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
NASA at 60: 1958-2018 Decades of Discovery

For six decades, NASA has led the peaceful exploration of space, making discoveries about our planet, our solar system, and our universe. At home, NASA research has made great advances in aviation,...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Integrated Multiphysics and Advanced Diagnostics

The objective of this effort was to design, fabricate, integrate, and fly a nuclear thermal rocket without having to build massive ground test facilities. Furthermore, this nuclear rocket...

Briefs : Energy
Piezoelectric Thrust Vector Control for Hall Effect Thruster

The design of the CubeSat required precision pointing of the thrust vector through the spacecraft center of gravity to minimize fuel usage for attitude correction. Because the center of gravity shifts over the course of the mission, a means of adjusting the thrust vector was needed....

Briefs : Materials
Non-Toxic HAN Monopropellant Propulsion

A highly miniaturized, MR-143, green monopropellant thruster was developed for 1N thrust. Testing indicated the initial catalyst bed heater was insufficient. In subsequent development, the thruster was equipped with a more efficient catalyst bed heater. For reliable ignition of the advanced, non-toxic,...

Briefs : Energy
Electrode Design Boosts Supercapacitor Performance

Supercapacitors are rechargeable energy storage devices that deliver more power for their size than similar-sized batteries. They also recharge quickly, and they last for hundreds to thousands of recharging cycles. Today, they are used in hybrid cars’ regenerative braking systems and for other...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Double-acting Extremely Light Thermo-Acoustic (DELTA) Converter

NASA's Glenn Research Center has developed a novel Double-acting Extremely Light Thermo-Acoustic (DELTA) converter that operates at high frequencies (>400 Hz) with greatly...

Blog : Propulsion
Answering Your Questions: Can CFD Software Simulate 'Wear and Tear' on an Engine?
Simulation tools offer insight into the physical processes of heavy-duty engines. But what about natural wear and tear?
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Offset Compound Gear Inline Two-Speed Drive

Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed a simple, lightweight, inline, two-speed drive that can be used either as an overall transmission, or as a supplemental add-on input...

Briefs : Motion Control
VTOL UAV with the Cruise Efficiency of a Conventional Fixed-Wing UAV

NASA Langley Research Center has developed Greased Lightning, the first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that combines vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capability with...

Briefs : Propulsion
Method for Establishing Cool Flames and Flameless Fuel Oxidation with Zero Emissions Using Non-Equilibrium Plasma Activation

Current engines and combustors run at high temperature, which leads to problems of engine knocking, soot and NOx emissions, and difficulty in combustion control. On the other hand, low-temperature combustion and fuel...

Briefs : Propulsion
Affordable Vehicle Avionics (AVA)

NASA Ames Research Center has developed a novel, low-cost, self-contained guidance system for small payload operators. Small satellites are becoming ever more capable of performing valuable missions for both...

Blog : Propulsion
Answering Your Questions: Will Reducing Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) Lead to Increased Particulate?
Does less nitrogen oxide mean more particulate emissions? A reader asks our expert.
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Freeform Channel Close-Out for High-Performance Heat Exchangers

Large-scale liquid rocket engines with regeneratively cooled nozzles will enable reliable and reduced-cost access to space. The coolant that circulates through the internal...

Briefs : Propulsion
Variable Bypass Turbofan Engine

Many aircraft need to operate efficiently at more than one flight regime; for example, certain airframes are expected to perform in relatively high-speed cruise modes, as well as slower loitering scenarios. Unfortunately, an engine operates most efficiently when the exit velocity closely matches the speed of the...

Briefs : Materials
New Methods in Preparing and Purifying Nanomaterials

Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have made several breakthroughs in treating hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) nanomaterials, improving their properties to supplant carbon nanotubes in many applications. These inventors have greatly enhanced the processes of intercalation and...

Briefs : Aerospace
Novel Turboelectric Aircraft Design

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a novel aircraft design that can carry 150+ passengers over a range of 3,500 nautical miles. Key features include a turboelectric propulsion system, twin...

Question of the Week : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Can a Harpoon Help with Space Clean-Up?

Once released from the International Space Station, the "RemoveDEBRIS" spacecraft will facilitate four demonstrations. One of the ideas: A harpoon. During the scheduled RemoveDEBRIS demo, the spear will be aimed at a target plate made of representative satellite materials.

Question of the Week : Robotics, Automation & Control
Will 'jet-powered' feet support search-and-rescue applications?

Tech Briefs TV this week featured research from the Guangdong University of Technology in China: A team of engineers developed a ducted-fan propulsion system that drives the legs of a bipedal robot. Watch the video, and let us know what you think.

Podcasts : Aerospace
Here's an Idea: Listen to the Story of Rocketry and Modern Spaceflight

On a snowy day in 1926, a physicist named Robert Goddard set out to his Aunt Effie's ranch. What happened next was not your typical day on the farm – Goddard launched...

Blog : Aerospace
Aboard SpaceX Cargo Capsule, New Ideas for Getting Rid of Space Junk
A “RemoveDEBRIS” satellite set to launch today will demonstrate new ideas for clearing out space junk near the International Space Station.
Briefs : Propulsion
Aluminum as a Fuel

Batteries and combustion engines each have distinctive benefits and limitations. Batteries have simple construction and operate silently; however, their energy density (i.e., the energy per unit volume) is poor, and...

Briefs : Motion Control
Robotic Gripper for Satellite Capture and Servicing

The robotic gripper was developed at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center as part of a robotic satellite servicing mission. The gripping device can be used to autonomously or remotely grasp and...

Briefs : Propulsion
Thruster-Based Attitude and Translation Control with Minimum Pulse-Count Disturbance Rejection

Thruster-based control typically requires a substantial engineering effort in order to mitigate an important issue: the control system tends to use many thruster pulses to accomplish what a single thruster pulse could do instead. This fundamental...

Briefs : Aerospace
Axial Magnetic Flux Airflow Integrated Compressor-Generator-Motor Turbojet Design

Innovators at the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center have developed a compressor-generator-motor turbojet design concept that integrates the generator with the aerodynamic blade structures of the compression section of turbomachinery. This reduces weight and...