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Carinthian Research Center Wins €700K Contract for Laser Rocket Ignition Research

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VILLACH, Austria, Nov. 4, 2015 — The European Space Agency (ESA) has awarded to CTR Carinthian Tech Research AG a contract worth about €700,000 (about $760,000). Under the contract, CTR will further develop its HiPoLas laser ignition technology for launcher drive systems to enable next-generation space vehicles.

"We now intend to integrate the ignition system in a combustion chamber for cryogenic fuels and adapt it to the extreme demands required for subsequent use in space," said Gerhard Kroupa, CTR project manager.

In addition to successful trials in car and stationary large gas engines, HiPoLas has also been tested for aviation use in jet engines.

To withstand the extreme mechanical loads during launch and the very high temperatures and pressures in the combustion chamber in space-exploration applications, the ignition system's materials, components and electronics will have to meet complex technical specifications and quality standards. The researchers also aim to improve cost-efficiency over conventional ignition systems.

CTR will continue to research miniaturization of the HiPoLas laser source, which does not require any adjustable elements, allowing it to withstand extreme temperatures and vibrations. Miniaturization offers a degree of flexibility regarding the position of the ignition plasma inside the combustion chamber. Higher pulse power compared with electrical ignition systems enables more reliable ignition, even with complex mixture ratios and high fuel velocities.

CTR will coordinate its efforts with Airbus Safran Launcher GmbH, previously contracted by ESA to develop the Ariane 6 launch vehicle. The laser ignition system will be taken into consideration during the ongoing development of Ariane 6, whose maiden flight is scheduled for 2020.

Established in 1997, CTR is a research center for smart sensors and system integration that develops products and processes based on integrated sensors and micro and nano systems.

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Nov 2015
EuropeEuropean Space AgencyESOBusinessResearch & TechnologyCTRCarinthianAirbusSafranlasersAriane 6nanospaceEuro News

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