NASA ENGINE TESTING IMPROVED BY DUAL-USE PROJECT
by John C. Stennis Space CenterMore articles in Rockets
HANCOCK COUNTY, Miss. —A recently completed Dual-Use Cooperative Agreement between NASA's Office of Technology Transfer at Stennis Space Center and BAFCO Inc. of Warminster, Penn., has produced an improved product for use on the rocket engine test stands at Stennis. The BAFCO Model 773 is a next-generation valve element designed to enhance performance in aerospace, industrial and chemical applications.
Stennis provides testing of Space Shuttle Main Engines, rocket propulsion systems and related rocket parts. The space center maintains several test facilities with a number positions for engine testing. To control the cost to replace parts, NASA partnered with BAFCO to improve manufacturing processes and delivery time.
"We no longer have to individually engineer each component," said BAFCO President Jim Hamtil. "Our company has been able to purchase commercial off-the-shelf components, then modify them using BAFCO technology and expertise. Subsequently, production and delivery lead-time have been reduced. Correspondingly, the unit price has been lowered. Production to delivery, the entire process has been reduced from 14 weeks to between four and eight weeks."
"This product is the result of a partnership between NASA and our company to resolve production problems and lower unit costs. It is a unique piece of equipment, which meets or exceeds established performance standards at mid-range pricing levels," said Hamtil.
NASA purchased 30 of BAFCO's Model 773 at a savings of more than $250,000.
All 30 of the units have been installed in the E-Complex at Stennis, and performance levels have met or exceeded those of all such products used before.
"Performance and costs are always elements of concern," said Haynes Haselmaier, a Mississippi Space Services support contractor. "Performance of test articles is dependent on the support systems surrounding them. We must have quality components to support rocket engine testing, but the delays we experienced in receiving units were constant, and the costs involved seemed to be continually mounting. The successful completion of this project has provided NASA with a high performance actuator at a lower cost significantly faster."
"This agreement allowed our company not only to address a government need," said Hamtil, "but also to enhance our commercial product. As a result, the Model 773 is receiving increased interest from companies outside the traditional applications areas."
Dual-use product development is based on the sharing of costs, risks and successes between the government and a commercial partner. In dual-use projects, NASA contributes technology development, facilities and know-how, engineering resources and funding. The commercial partner contributes unique expertise, facilities, manufacturing, marketing capabilities and potential cash resources. The result is an approach that provides flexibility and draws upon the capabilities of both parties.
"This dual-use project is an excellent example of how NASA and industry can partner to develop a NASA-needed technology while at the same time, help fulfill a commercial marketplace need," said NASA's John Bailey, Office of Technology Transfer Dual-Use manager.
For more information about NASA's Dual-Use Technology Development Program at Stennis, call (228) 688-1929 or visit the Web site at http://technology.ssc.nasa.gov.