LOCKHEED MARTIN PERFORMS SUCCESSFUL HYBRID MOTOR TEST FIRING USING PARAFFIN FUEL
NEW ORLEANS, LA, 26-OCT-04 -- Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) successfully completed a test firing of the largest paraffin-fueled hybrid motor on record at the NASA Stennis Space Center on Sept. 30, 2004. Paraffin is similar to the material used in candles, only stronger.
The 10-inch diameter, paraffin-fueled motor produced more than 5,000-lb.of thrust and burned for 10 seconds. The test firing met its objectives for continued hybrid fuel development.
As part of an ongoing effort to advance state of the art hybrid propulsion, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company -- Michoud Operations in New Orleans obtained paraffin fuel grain that is compatible with current test hardware from The Space Propulsion Group, a California company affiliated with Stanford University. Michoud Operations technicians then integrated the paraffin fuel grain with Lockheed Martin’s patented stage combustion system.
The testing demonstrated that paraffin has a much higher regression rate – the rate at which solid propellant turns into gas to be burned -- when compared with HTPB (hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene),” said Tim Knowles, Lockheed Martin's principal investigator for hybrid rocket motors. “If the paraffin technology can be scaled to larger sizes, this higher regression rate has the potential for improved hybrid propulsion performance in future applications.
A hybrid propulsion system consists of a solid fuel and a separate oxidizer source. Hybrid propulsion offers significant advantages over conventional solid propellants -- where both the fuel and the oxidizer are combined -- in that hybrids are non-explosive, throttleable, lower cost and environmentally benign.
In researching hybrids for the past 15 years, Lockheed Martin has tested more than 650 hybrid motors. Hybrid propulsion applications include small launch vehicles, high fidelity targets and launch boosters.
A high-resolution photograph of the hybrid motor test firing is available at http://www.lockheedmartin.com/michoud/gallery/gallery_index.html
Lockheed Martin Space Systems -- Michoud Operations designs and assembles large aluminum and composite structures such as the Space Shuttle External Tank for aerospace and other applications at the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.