Status Report

NASA GRC Solicitation: Monopropellant Thrusting Systems

By SpaceRef Editor
October 4, 2011
Filed under , ,

Synopsis – Oct 04, 2011

General Information

Solicitation Number: NNC12ZMA004L
Posted Date: Oct 04, 2011
FedBizOpps Posted Date: Oct 04, 2011
Recovery and Reinvestment Act Action: No
Original Response Date: Nov 23, 2011
Current Response Date: Nov 23, 2011
Classification Code: A — Research and Development
NAICS Code: 541712 – Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences (except Biotechnology)

Contracting Office Address

NASA/Glenn Research Center, 21000 Brookpark Road, Cleveland, OH 44135


NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC) is seeking information through this Request for Information (RFI) to identify, improve and/or enhance monopropellant systems for increasing challenging mission requirements. This document is for information and planning purposes and to allow industry the opportunity to verify reasonableness and feasibility of the requirement, as well as promote competition.

The current state-of-the art in monopropellant thrusters for spacecraft applications uses hydrazine fuel that is decomposed by a catalyst bed. The state-of-the art in catalyst used in these thrusters is a packed bed of a porous substrate (alumina) with Iridium catalyst. This catalyst system is subject to a number of difficult-to-control degradation issues associated with the stability of the substrate. Examples include mechanical abrasion between bed particles causing catalyst breakup, penetration of hydrazine into the pores of the catalyst causing catalyst breakup as the bed warms to operating temperature, and catalyst breakup due to pressure “spikes” that occur when hydrazine that collects in voids in the catalyst bed suddenly decomposes. All of these processes contribute to formation of voids in the catalyst, which then hasten the rate of bed degradation. For future space missions, NASA is expecting a demand for ever more stringent requirements for monopropellant thruster performance. Operating conditions for these thrusters will be severe, including operation with propellant as cold as 10 *C, thousands of starts in which the catalyst bed is raised from a catalyst bed heater temperature as low as 100 *C to steady temperatures as high as 1400 *C, and hundreds of thousands of pulses in which the catalyst bed stays in the range of 100 *C to 400 *C. Total firings times are expected to range upwards of 100,000 s. The pressure within the catalyst bed will vary from space vacuum to perhaps 30 bar and the flow rate during steady operation may vary by a factor of 4 or more. The catalyst bed is expected to have a life of successful monopropellant activation over 10 to 20 years without degradation. Although there are several mechanisms by which the catalyst may degrade due to chemical instability, these need to be mitigated, and the catalyst bed structural integrity must also be able to demonstrate a high degree of mechanical robustness in order to not be lost through the severe duty cycles of operation. NASA GRC is interested in potential catalyst systems that would possess the combined chemical and mechanical integrity to meet the severe operating conditions described above. This RFI is seeking potential options for such catalyst systems, including catalyst, support and configuration that could be investigated for possible candidacy for such an application. A self assessment of Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of the proposed system as well as estimated ROM cost and schedule to mature the systems to TRL 6 would be of value. Please provide non-proprietary information only.

All inputs must be received by November 23rd, 2011.

Interested parties should submit information not to exceed three pages for each concept. Please note that these statements will also be read by non-experts. In the header please include the submitting institution, contact person, and RFI title. Information on all monopropellant technologies should be sent, via electronic transmission or by facsimile transmission.

This presolicitation synopsis is not to be construed as a commitment by the Government, nor will the Government pay for the information submitted in response. Respondents will not be notified of the results.

An ombudsman has been appointed — See NASA Specific Note “B”.

The solicitation and any documents related to this procurement will be available over the Internet. These documents will reside on a World Wide Web (WWW) server, which may be accessed using a WWW browser application. The Internet site, or URL, for the NASA/GRC Business Opportunities home page is It is the offeror’s responsibility to monitor the Internet cite for the release of the solicitation and amendments (if any). Potential offerors will be responsible for downloading their own copy of the solicitation and amendments, if any.

Point of Contact

Name: John W Dankanich
Title: Technical Point of Contact
Phone: 216-433-5356
Fax: 216-433-2480

Name: Ernest C. Mensurati
Title: Contracting Officer
Phone: 216-433-2727
Fax: 216-433-2480

SpaceRef staff editor.