SLI Contractor Wins NASA's Small Disadvantaged Business Award

Press Release From: Kennedy Space Center
Posted: Monday, December 9, 2002

Sierra Lobo, Inc., a contractor for NASA's Space Launch Initiative (SLI), recently won NASA's Small Disadvantaged Business Prime Contractor Award. The Ohio-based company won for their Densified Propellant Management System (DPMS) contract work, which supports next generation launch technology development efforts. The densified propellants project is considered an enabling technology for some versions of a reusable launch vehicle since it has the attributes of decreasing vehicle mass.

Through SLI, NASA is defining, developing, and testing technologies needed to make space transportation safer and less expensive. To further this initiative, Sierra Lobo developed and tested a Thermo Acoustic Stirling Heat Engine (TASHE) and a two-stage pulse tube refrigerator that will operate in two different temperature regimes and will simultaneously condition both liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants.

"This development effort capitalizes on the new technology of thermoacoustics, where refrigeration down to a temperature of 14o K can be achieved with no moving parts, such as compressors, expanders, and valves," said Bill Notardonato, densified propellant technical lead. "This makes the system more simple and reliable to operate and maintain. In addition, it is a derivative of the Stirling Cycle and uses natural gas as the energy input, so it is efficient and economical."

The Sierra Lobo team has also created a mass gauging system called Cryo-Tracker(tm). The system is a liquid level and temperature sensing system that will be used to measure propellant mass onboard the vehicle prior to launch. When complete, the DPMS and Cryo-Tracker(tm) will produce, maintain and mass gauge densified cryogenic liquids for 2GRLV. Sierra Lobo is the only contractor working on a cryogenic liquid mass gauging system for SLI.

"Sierra Lobo has been instrumental in developing technologies for a reusable launch vehicle with KSC," said nominator Jalane Shelton, KSC contracting officer. "This highly unique and complex initiative has endless changes in the research and development environment and Sierra Lobo continues to be a voice of knowledge and reason. They are true experts in this field and continue to be masters of this ever-changing effort. Their effort is vital to the success of this program and their highly motivated and dedicated team continues to excel to meet the requirements of the program office."

Other contractor awardees are: Flad and Associates, Space Gateway Support, V.A. Paving, Inc., GEO Syntec Consultants, Launch Coast Services, Inc., Central Data, Inc. and Nelson Engineering Company.

All NASA's field centers and the Air Force Research Laboratory are actively participating in the Space Launch Initiative and are vital to its success. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., leads the Space Launch Initiative for NASA's Office of Aerospace Technology.

Visit, for additional SLI information.

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