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Propulsion <img alt="" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> <p style="text-align:justify;">​The development of Propulsion at CIRA complies with the Aerospace Research Program (PRO.R.A.) which defines the general guidelines in accordance with the ASI, MIUR (national level) and ESA (EU) strategic programs.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The CIRA mission is to achieve skills and knowledge consolidation and development in its own ambit, in order to efficiently meet the large number of scientific and social drivers.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Europe holds an important position in the launcher sector; Italy particularly plays a significant role in the field of small launchers. Italy is actually listed as a major player within the development program of the European Space Agency (ESA) launcher, Vega - designed to launch small payloads (300 to 2,500 kg satellites) into low Earth orbit (LEO).</p><ul style="text-align:justify;"><li><p>During the last Ministerial Conference, the future development strategies for the access to space have been set: the evolution of VEGA has been indicated as mandatory to enhance the  European launch capacity. In this scenario, the development of oxygen-methane engines has been confirmed – in the medium/long term-  as valid option for the  VEGA upper stages</p></li><li><p>In the Space Horizon 2020 Work Program, EU identified several technological drivers for access to space and space transport systems, which also concern propulsion matter: in particular, propellants "green" for the hydrazine replacement, development of innovative materials and processes for future generation engines, electric propulsion for future generation satellites.</p></li><li><p>The HYPROB program, committed to CIRA by the Ministry of Research from 2010 with the aim of developing expertise on hydrocarbon-based propulsion systems (methane) for Space, is confirmed as decisive to make CIRA an excellent structure at European level for the Propulsion, allowing the training of highly qualified personnel and the growth of advanced technological capabilities in-house and in the affiliated companies.</p></li><li><p>At European level, the renewed strong interest for interplanetary travels, in particular in space mission towards Mars, requires the development of propulsion systems capturing energy from the Sun. Such Systems could be quite "conventional" systems  as  Hall effect engines, or  "revolutionary" systems as  Solar Plasma or lasers propulsion systems.</p></li><li><p>For the aeronautic transport,  European plans indicate as fundamental the development of  efficient and green propulsion systems, including electric, hybrid-electric and the Diesel systems. Such guidelines and indications are included the Horizon 2020 Work Program. </p></li><li><p>Another precious guideline for the aeronautical long-term research is  the SRIA (Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda)  that assigns for 2050  challenging goals to achieve:  CO2 reduction of 75%, NOx reduction  90% and perceived noise reduction  65% by 2050, compared to average values of 2000.  Such requirements obviously  impose large investment in the development of  ultra-green and ultra-efficient propulsion systems.</p></li></ul><p style="text-align:justify;">The Propulsion Area objectives are:</p><ul style="text-align:justify;"><li><p>to develop the capacity to analyze, design and build liquid rocket or hybrid engines, also through the construction of technological demonstrators;</p></li><li><p>to strengthen the capacity to analyze, design and build electric engines for space propulsion;</p></li><li><p>to acquire enabling technologies for supporting the future space engines design;</p></li><li><p>to develop technologies for the development of innovative airbreathing engines (such as ramjet and scramjets);</p></li><li><p>to increase the capacity for simulation of complex combustion phenomena in solid motors;</p></li><li><p>to design electrochemical power systems with high energy densities for aerospace applications;</p></li><li><p>to analyze and optimize the performance of  thermal aircraft engines and hybrid aircraft engines (thermal - electrical;</p></li><li><p>to support  the development  of new propulsion facilities at CIRA;</p></li><li><p>to perform the feasibilities study of  revolutionary systems such as laser and solar plasma propulsion  systems. </p></li></ul><p style="text-align:justify;">The research themes addressed by the discipline, carried out both within projects/programs both as part of internal initiatives, are numerous:</p><p style="text-align:justify;"><span style="text-decoration:underline;">Energy systems for aerospace.</span> In the recent past, the high-altitude  and long endurance (HALE) flight has been a priority PRORA goal. It pushed CIRA to face the issue of propulsion based on hydrogen closed-cycle. The research goal, in such a complicated system, was achieving to a very high value of energy density to enable a kind of "continuous flight". After few years, the HALE flight study was abandoned  (following the indications of CIRA stakeholder )  and  knowledge gained in the energetic system design was   focused on  the development of  electrochemical  power system  for aeronautics. The new goal became the design, integrate and testing of and electrochemical power system suited for aerospace application with a very   high energy density value. Such system will be capable  of providing electrical power to all aircraft users including  an electric motor coupled with  a piston engine.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"><span lang="EN-US"><span style="text-decoration:underline;">Efficient & Green Aeroengine.</span> </span>In this area, CIRA has a long history started in 2000 with involvement in a project for the development of technological demonstrator of a compression ignition (Diesel) engine for aviation. Nowadays, the development of that engine  is still in progress with  the application by CIRA of  advanced manufactured technologies .  In particular, CIRA  is designing and manufacturing  new con-rods in titanium alloy with additive manufacturing technique. The  goal  is improving the characteristics of important engine parts, increasing resistance and decreasing mass. In accordance with the guidelines suggested by National and European strategic documents, the propulsion discipline at CIRA  is going to  invest  in the hybrid (electric /thermal) engine development.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"><span style="text-decoration:underline;">Liquid propellant and hybrid engines for space propulsion.</span> The cryogenic liquid propulsion (LOX / LCH4) and hybrid activities have been developed during the past six years, especially through the HYPROB program. In particular, in this period, design methodologies have been developed, technologies for the realization of ground demonstrators have been acquired, and testing experience has been gained. At the facility AVIO / FAST2 in Colleferro, experimental campaigns on an Heat Sink engine - throttle body designed and entirely made in CIRA- were performed.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"> </p><p style="text-align:justify;">These experimental campaigns have allowed the validation of design tools and the deepening of issues related to the heat exchange and combustion. Currently, a technological demonstrator realization is in progress using innovative manufacturing techniques, such as electro-deposition and brazing with heterogeneous materials. It is a 30 kN class engine fully designed by CIRA.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"> </p><p style="text-align:justify;"><span style="text-decoration:underline;">Space Engines design - support activities.</span> The Space Propulsion team has  gained expertise  in the analysis and design of  space engines using both  full CFD and 1D  tools(i.e. ROCCID for the combustion stability analysis)  also in cooperation with academic and industrial partners (i.e. in VECEP and LIPROM projects, ASI JAXA cooperation).</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The design of solid-propellant rocket motor, and particularly for the combustion chamber design, there are  issues, such as pressure oscillations estimate,  that can be efficiently  faced only  by means of  sophisticated theoretical/numerical methods or scaled tests. These oscillations are very critical issues for the launchers design (Ariane 5 booster i.e. P230, Titan IV SRMU or Space Shuttle RSRM and more recently the VEGA stages). CIRA propulsion space laboratory is developing several methodologies, based on computational fluid dynamics tools and engineering models, just for the studying of such oscillations. </p><p style="text-align:justify;"><span style="text-decoration:underline;">Electric Engines for space propulsion.</span> Space Electric propulsion is one of the most interesting technology for enabling interplanetary /interstellar travels and for realizing efficient control of satellite attitude.  CIRA is strongly investing in this field with  the design and realization,  foreseen within the next  3 years,  of  2 electric propulsion facilities, MSVC (medium Scale Vacuum Chamber)  and LSVC (large Scale Vacum Chamber) .  Space Proulsion Team, in this framework, is designing an electric engine (Hall effect thuster engine) to be tested  just in  MSVC facility. The photo below represents the engine mockup currently under construction.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"><span style="text-decoration:underline;">Revolutionary propulsion systems.</span> Design and build propulsion systems for planetary exploration is certainly one of the most important challenges in the current scenarios of space programs. Current propulsion systems, both chemical and electrical, do not allow to have the output speed of the gas sufficiently high to enable missions within the solar system with reasonable timing for the man. It is necessary, therefore, to think to others systems as for example systems that rely on the big speed of solar wind. Another interesting revolutionary propulsion system is based on laser technology useful especially for application related to micro thrust   in scientific missions requiring very low but very accurate thrust. Both Propulsion system are characterized by a very low TRL requiring feasibility studies that CIRA is currently performing. </p>

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Space propulsion, the first test campaign at MSVC facility<img alt="" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> propulsion, the first test campaign at MSVC facilitySpace propulsion, the first test campaign at MSVC facilityThe test campaign on the first low power Hall Effect Thruster CR-HET 250 was launched at Medium Scale Vacuum Chamber facility.2022-05-18T22:00:00Z
Development of Plasma Models for Hall Effect Thrusters<img alt="" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> of Plasma Models for Hall Effect ThrustersDevelopment of Plasma Models for Hall Effect ThrustersIn the framework of the activities of Methodologies and Models for Electric Propulsion (MEMS) research program, CIRA is conducting research activities aiming to the development of a hybrid plasma model for Hall Effect Thruster.2022-01-13T23:00:00Z
Development of Hollow Cathodes for Space Propulsion<img alt="" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> of Hollow Cathodes for Space PropulsionDevelopment of Hollow Cathodes for Space PropulsionCIRCAT (CIRA-cathode​​) è il catodo cavo per applicazioni di propulsione elettrica spaziale di bassa potenza, progettato dal CIRA nell'ambito del progetto Impianti per la Propulsione Elettrica2022-01-13T23:00:00Z