$5M for USET Rocket Engine Turbopump Research
General Corp. in Sacramento, CA received a $5 million cost-plus fixed-fee contract modification. The contract modification exercises the option contract line item number 0006 to continue the research Upper State Engine Technology (USET) effort re: turbopump preliminary design for a new rocket engine.
The USET program is laying the groundwork and creating software for the development of a larger, more efficient, and more economical regenerative cycle, upper stage engine. The Turbopump Assembly must be designed to work in perfect harmony with the Thrust Chamber Assembly, which in this case will result in a highly efficient engine capable of producing 40,000 pounds of thrust. Two turbopumps are used to deliver liquefied, cryogenic fuel and oxidizer to the combustion chamber. However, a portion of the fuel is vaporized and used to power the turbopumps. After exiting the turbopumps the vaporized fuel is then also delivered to the combustion chamber in a regenerative cycle. This complex configuration allows 100% of the launch vehicle’s fuel to be utilized for thrust.
As the DoD release notes: “this [turbopump preliminary design] will be accomplished through developing and/or improving upon current engineering design, physical modeling and component performance simulation tools, in order to exceed the Integrated High Payoff Rocket Propulsion Technology Cryogenic Upper Stage Phase I goals and strive for Phase II goals. This option is for the turbopump preliminary design.”
Barber-Nichols Inc. and Northrop Grumman are also reputed to be partnered and working on USET turbopump research.
The contract will almost certainly be executed by GenCorp subsidiary Aerojet. Work will be complete by September 2006. The Headquarters Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, CA issued the contract (FA9300-04-C-0008, P00012).