NASA announced the selection of 133 proposals for Phase II of the SBIR program. One of the more exciting proposals selected is from Altius Space Machines, titled “Lightweight, High-Flow, Low Connection-Force, In-Space Cryogenic Propellant Coupling”:
While all cryogenic rocket stages have to have a propellant fill/drain coupling for loading propellant on the ground, existing designs are not capable of in-space refuelability. A dual-purpose coupler that could be used for both ground fill/drain and for in-space refueling would be extremely valuable.In this proposed SBIR Phase II research effort, Altius Space Machines proposes continuing the development of just such a dual-purpose, lightweight, high-flow cryogenic propellant coupling to enable both ground fill/drain and in-space refueling. This coupling incorporates an innovative new cryogenic sealing architecture to enable a coupling with very low insertion/extraction forces, for manual, robotic, and astronaut-connected cryogenic propellant transfer operations.
An exciting, much-needed development that could be a huge part of our future in space. One of these days, we just might get Jon on the show to discuss.