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Power,  Propulsion,  and  Energy  Storage

Johnson Space Center (JSC) provides test facilities and skilled personnel for many of the fluid and energy conversion systems required for human exploration and development in space, including power generation and storage, fluid storage and distribution, and electromechanical and hydraulic actuation. Test capabilities include battery performance, abuse and life-cycle, power distribution system, fuel cell, high voltage and corona detection, connector and wire, and power quality. JSC is actively engaged in the development and demonstration of power system technologies. Expertise is available to support development of power distribution systems, battery power management systems, fuel cell systems, and integrated testing before deployment.

Johnson Space Center (JSC) has led the development and certification of a majority of NASA in-space on-board human spacecraft propulsion systems and is actively engaged in the development and demonstration of advanced propulsion system technologies. Expertise is available to support development of cold/warm gas, monopropellant, bipropellant, and cryogenic propulsion systems over the full project life cycle of a project, from concept definition to flight.

Power and Energy Storage Services Provided:

  • Battery systems design, test, and analysis
    • Variety of cell chemistries – Alkaline, Li-on, NiMH, Pb-Acid
    • Battery performance testing
    • Battery abuse testing
  • Power system design and vehicle integration
    • Power systems modeling (SABER)
  • Integrated power system verification testing
    • High-fidelity power emulators and load emulators
    • Battery, fuel cell, regulated solar array emulators
    • Active and passive load banks to represent vehicle load conditions
  • Off nominal power testing
    • Envelope limit testing of hardware in system level test environment
    • Fault injection scenarios in true off nominal conditions
  • Automated power quality testing
    • Rapid regression testing
    • Rapid test development using canned tests
  • Fuel cell design, analysis, and test
  • Battery Performance testing capabilities:
    • Multiple systems ranging from low current/voltage to high current/voltage
    • Constant voltage, current, and power modes provided
    • Long- and short-term cycling
    • Determination of optimal charge and discharge rates
    • Thermal capacities/vacuum tolerance
  • Battery Abuse Testing capabilities
    • High temperature exposure and heat-to-vent testing
    • Over charge and over discharge characterization
    • Positive temperature coefficient failure testing
    • Short circuit testing
    • Crush, drop testing
    • Destructive physical analysis
    • Vent/burst pressure testing
  • Fuel Cell Testing capabilities
    • Two fuel cell test stands with unattended test capability
    • Oxygen flow rates up to 8 scfm and hydrogen flow rates up to 16 scfm
    • Reactant supply and distribution up to 300 psig
    • Programmable DC load backs to dissipate fuel cell power up to 150 kW at up to 100V
  • Electrical System Testing
    • Electrical power quality testing of International Space Station loads, payloads, and equipment
    • 208 Vac to 120 Vdc power supplies
    • 208 Vac to 28 Vdc power supply
    • Remote Power Controller Module Emulators
    • Impedance Measurement System – Electrical loads (DC and electronics)
    • Wire arc track testing (dry method using Abrader/wet method using saline drip)

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In-Space Propulsion Services Provided:

  • System Design and Vehicle Integration
    • From conceptual to detailed design
    •  In-house developed design tools
  • Thermal Fluid Network Modeling
    • Water hammer and gas dynamics analysis
    • Thermal modeling of cryogenic systems
  • Rocket Engine Performance and Kinetics Codes
    • Nozzle design and performance analysis
    • Combustion kinetics modeling
    • Analysis tools: ONC, TDK, REDTOP-Pro
  • Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) – injector flow modeling, internal flows (FLUENT)
  • Thermal Mechanical Design and Analysis
    • Pro-E mechanical design solid and modeling
    • Integrated system design

Propulsion Test Facilities:

Integrated Cryogenic Propulsion System Thermal-Vacuum Chamber Testing

The 15-ft high vacuum (10-05 torr) test chamber provides integrated system testing to support technology development and demonstration for space storable cryogenic propulsion systems.

Liquid Oxygen – Methane CryoCart Mobile Test Platform

CryoCart provides a flexible test platform for the screening and evaluation of small components and systems. Fully mobile and portable with on-board data acquisition, the separate LO2 and Methane carts have on-board helium pressurization and can be operated individually or as a pair with minimal operational overhead (2 operators). The carts are capable of providing propellant flow rates to support <1 lbf to 100 lbf class thruster hot fires.

 Liquid Oxygen – Methane Terrestrial Free Flyer Test Bed (Morpheus)

Versatile platform to support integrated vehicle-level test and demonstration of spacecraft systems, including nontoxic propellant technologies, integrated propulsion/avionics/GN&C architectures, and Autonomous Landing Hazard Avoidance Technology (ALHAT). Ability to fly analog trajectories, such as lunar descent, using LO2/Methane propulsion for low-cost testing with rapid recycle time

Advanced Propulsion Physics Laboratory

JSC is developing a low-thrust, high-fidelity advanced propulsion research laboratory to further explore current advanced physics models. Advanced propulsion physics investigations require sensitive and dedicated laboratory setup with the ability to test in air and in vacuum, with good vibration/ environment isolation and quality data acquisition and processing systems.

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