Propulsion Monitoring for Use in Missile Space Applications
Navy SBIR 2019.2 - Topic N192-137
SSP - Mr. Mark Hrbacek -
Opens: May 31, 2019 - Closes: July 1, 2019 (8:00 PM ET)


TITLE: Propulsion Monitoring for Use in Missile Space Applications


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Materials/Processes, Sensors, Weapons ACQUISITION PROGRAM: Trident II D5 Missile System ACAT I

The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with section 3.5 of the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.


OBJECTIVE: Develop RF technology or equivalent acoustic sensors to establish line-of-sight measurements through materials. Primarily, develop and demonstrate a solid propulsion monitoring system that may be used to provide assessments in the field and / or during missile production operations for use in Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) systems, specifically for detection of propellant slumping, and gaps in bonds between the case-to-insulation and insulation-to-propellant interfaces.


DESCRIPTION: The purpose of a new monitoring system is to reduce handling of solid rocket motors. Technologies will be investigated that can provide measurements of the propellant material in the processing and operational storage areas. The system will work in an explosive atmosphere and near assembly and maintenance staff. The operational storage area is a tightly confined metallic enclosed space and may require a subsystem to place and relocate the sensors used to probe the materials. Small mobile Radio Frequency (RF) or acoustic energy devices, with emitter and multiple receivers, can be used on the exterior of the structure to map the internal structure of the motor. Motor case materials can significantly attenuate some radio frequencies. Current inspection approaches use High Energy Computed Tomography (HECT). The task is to develop technology to use RF or acoustic sensors to establish line-of-sight measurements through materials. In situ assessment of motor propellant characteristics can be advantageous to a variety of missile systems and commercial launch vehicles.


The following capabilities should be addressed by the proposed solution:

   Assessment of technologies for detection of propellant slumping, any gaps in bonds between the case-to-insulation, and gaps in bond between the insulation-to-propellant

   Assessment of the usage of sensor fusion and advanced processing

   Ability of acoustic sensor to provide measurement with emitter and receiver at same location

   Ability of acoustic sensors to establish line-of-sight measurements through carbon fiber and rubber insulation materials

   Ability of RF sensors to establish line-of-sight measurements through materials

  Identification of other potential detection methods

   Ability to place sensors in confined spaces

   Ability for space constrained motion

   Ability for sensor array self-location

   Analysis of hazards to humans to ensure compliance to OSHA regulations; no human testing is required

   Assessment of hazards to ordnance

   Assessments for use in wharf / shoreside environment

  Estimates of time required to conduct scans

   Assessment of communication protocols, cost, reliability, size, resolution

   Assessment of limiting factors or concern areas


PHASE I: Develop a proof-of-concept solution; identify a candidate monitoring system, sensors, data acquisition hardware, technologies, and designs. Conduct a feasibility assessment for the proposed solution showing advancements in contrast to existing devices. Address, at a minimum, the capabilities listed in the Description. At the completion of Phase I, document, in a Phase II plan, the design and assessment for Phase II consideration.


PHASE II: Design and demonstrate a propulsion monitoring system that meets the capabilities listed in the Description. Test the manufactured prototypes in relevant ambient temperature environments, and collect performance data that may be used to characterize the capabilities of the design. Define and demonstrate methods to perform measurement, placement of data acquisition devices, data processing requirements, resolution of resulting images, and location of propellant features. Define and demonstrate how to compare new propulsion monitoring system data with legacy HECT data. Propose modifications to the Phase II design for multiple platforms.


PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Develop and demonstrate the proposed modifications to the Phase II design, which may be used to augment a monitoring system for multiple applications (e.g., Trident II (D5) Missile, other solid rocket systems, composite aircraft inspection systems). This technology can be used to detect delaminations in composites and laminate materials in aerospace and other industries.



1.   Sause, M.G.R., Müller, T., Horoschenkoff, A., Horn, S. “Quantification of failure mechanisms in mode-I loading of fiber reinforced plastics utilizing acoustic emission analysis.” Composites Science and Technology, Volume 72, Issue 2, 2012, pp. 167-174.


2.   Ingram, S.J., Harmer, D. and Quinlan, M. "UltraWideBand indoor positioning systems and their use in emergencies." Position Location and Navigation Symposium (PLANS) (IEEE Cat. No.04CH37556), Monterey, CA, USA, 2004, pp. 706-715. emergencies


KEYWORDS: Wireless; Instrumentation; Sensors; Telemetry



David Shaw






James Harper






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