COBRA, one of the engines being considered for the next generation reusable launch vehicle, has recently completed its preliminary design review for NASA’s Space Launch Initiative – a technology development effort to establish reliable, affordable space access.
According to NASA, COBRA (Co-optimised Booster for Reusable Applications), is a reusable, hydrogen-fuelled liquid booster and second stage engine with a thrust level of 600,000 pounds of force. The engine is being developed by Pratt & Whitney-Aerojet Propulsion Associates.
The preliminary design review is a lengthy technical analysis that evaluates the engine design to ensure achievement of system requirements and Space Launch Initiative (SLI) goals of improved safety, reliability, cost and operability.
The review is conducted when the engine design is approximately 50 percent complete and engine drawings are approximately 10 percent complete.
COBRA is a single fuel-rich pre-burner, staged combustion engine using liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen as propellants. The engine aims to provide a 100-mission life span with a 50-mission maintenance check-up interval.
‘COBRA utilises several Space Shuttle Main Engine technologies, including the advanced turbopump design for both of the high-pressure turbopumps and key sensors for advanced health management,’ said Jim Snoddy, project manager for COBRA at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Centre.
‘In addition, COBRA has taken on development of the channel wall nozzle to help meet second generation goals. Combining the lessons learned from the Shuttle program with advancing technologies will enable us to develop an advanced engine candidate for the second generation reusable launch vehicle.’
The COBRA engine is one of two hydrogen-fuelled engine designs being evaluated as a first or second stage option for the next generation reusable launch vehicle.
Kerosene-fuelled engines are also being considered for the first stage booster. Engineers at the Marshall Centre will narrow engine options based on SLI requirements.