NASA JSC and Penn State wish to collaborate on the further development of a JSC inhouse designed liquid oxygen (L02)lliquid methane (LCH4) reaction control engine (RCE) to characterize its performance over an expanded range of operating conditions. The engine was originally developed under the NASA Propulsion Component Advanced Development (PCAD) project and is being further developed by the JSC Propulsion Systems Branch under the AES Morpheus project. Penn State is seeking an RCE for their Lunar Lion vehicle as part of its participation in the Google Lunar X-Prize.
NASA JSC will loan up to five L021CH4 RCE and supporting hardware to Penn State. NASA JSC will also provide input into Penn State's test plans and test constraints. The test constraints will emphasize limiting potential damage to the loaned hardware. Penn State will test the engine in accordance with the agreed to test plans. As the Penn State test program provides periodic engine performance data to NASA JSC, NASA JSC may modify the engine's design. Modified versions of the engine may then later be provided on loan to Penn State for testing. Perm State will perform the engine testing at its facilities at no cost to JSC and share the resulting data and analysis.
The testing will benefit Penn State in assessing vehicle control characteristics for their Lunar Lion vehicle and provide an opportunity to engage its students in hands-on engine testing. JSC will benefit by receiving additional test data on the engine over an expanded range of operating conditions and will provide an opportunity to investigate performance improvements from design changes that may result from JSC and/or Penn State's analysis of the test data. The JSC Propulsion Systems Branch and the Penn State Applied Research Lab will both benefit through enhanced interaction and collaboration on L02lCH4 engine technology.