Northrop Grumman, NASA Successfully Test Fuel Tank For Reusable Launch Vehicles | Aero-News Network
Aero-News Network
RSS icon RSS feed
podcast icon MP3 podcast
Subscribe Aero-News e-mail Newsletter Subscribe

Most Recent Daily Airborne

Airborne On ANN

Airborne On YouTube/Hi-Def/Mac Friendly

Monday

Airborne 01.19.15

Airborne 01.19.15

Tuesday

Airborne 01.20.15

Airborne 01.20.15

Wednesday

Airborne 01.21.15

Airborne 01.21.15

Thursday

Airborne 01.22.15

Airborne 01.22.15

Friday

Airborne 01.23.15

Airborne 01.23.15

Sat, Dec 20, 2003

Northrop Grumman, NASA Successfully Test Fuel Tank For Reusable Launch Vehicles

Tests Boosts Confidence in Using Composite Tanks for Reusable Launch Vehicles

A team of engineers from Northrop Grumman Corporation and NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville (AL) have demonstrated that a new, specially designed fuel tank made from composite materials can safely hold and contain liquid hydrogen under simulated launch conditions.

The tests were conducted Nov. 22 at the Marshall Center, as part of NASA's Next Generation Launch Technology (NGLT) program, an ongoing effort to develop and mature technologies required for a next generation reusable launch vehicle. Liquid hydrogen is an essential but highly volatile fuel used in the combustion process that propels rockets.  It must be stored and used at -423 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature that causes most materials to become quite brittle. 

Liquid hydrogen also has an extremely fine molecular structure, which allows it to seep through the tiniest of holes. "This test represents a significant step forward in reducing the risks associated with using composite tanks to store cryogenic fuels," said Joan Funk, NASA's NGLT cryogenic tanks project leader. "Composite tanks offer a 10 to 25 percent reduction in weight over current aluminum tanks, so their use would allow us to consider larger payloads.  They could also help us reduce costs associated with acquiring and operating a reusable launch vehicle."

For the tests, the Northrop Grumman/NASA team filled a 6-foot diameter x 15 foot long tank with liquid hydrogen, then subjected it to an axial load and an internal pressure of approximately 120 pounds per square inch to simulate the stresses experienced by a rocket during launch.  The tank is approximately one quarter of the projected size (27.5 feet in diameter x 80 feet long) of a fuel tank required for some reusable launch vehicle concepts.  An axial load is a load applied along the vertical axis of the launch vehicle. During the next nine months, the team will fill, apply internal and external loads, and drain the tank approximately 40 times to demonstrate its structural integrity at cryogenic temperatures and its ability to be reused.

"This test exemplifies the technological leadership that Northrop Grumman is bringing to the challenge of achieving affordable, reusable access to space," said Tod Palm, Northrop Grumman's composite tank project leader.  "The team's breakthrough in fabricating cryogenic fuel tanks has significant, long-term implications for the nation's civil and military space programs." According to Palm, the team's success resulted from three technical advances: a new approach to fabricating the walls of the tank; the use of a secondary barrier film to prevent liquid hydrogen from seeping into the tank walls; and an innovative, perforated honeycomb core design that ensures crew safety by safely venting liquid hydrogen to space in the unlikely event that any of the fuel seeps past the barrier film.

Northrop Grumman's work for NASA on the cryogenic fuel tanks is being done under a 3-year series of Next Generation Launch Technology contract options that began in June 2001.  The contracts, collectively worth approximately $30 million, include work on permeation resistant composite cryotanks, development and refinement of new manufacturing processes that will allow the company to build large composite tanks without an autoclave; and design and engineering development of conformal fuel tanks appropriate for use on a single-stage-to-orbit vehicle.

FMI: www.northgrum.com

Advertisement

More News

Airborne 01.23.15: Google/SpaceX Bucks, Pet Aero-Rescue, Return of the P-3?

Also: Disruptive Innovation, V22 Ospreys, USAF Lets Bluebook Loose, Dawn and Ceres, FAASTeam Virtual Safety Stand Down As SpaceX’s Elon Musk pushes ahead on his development o>[...]

Airborne 01.23.15: Google/SpaceX Bucks, Pet Aero-Rescue, Return of the P-3?

Also: Disruptive Innovation, V22 Ospreys, USAF Lets Bluebook Loose, Dawn and Ceres, FAASTeam Virtual Safety Stand Down As SpaceX’s Elon Musk pushes ahead on his development o>[...]

Klyde Morris (01.26.15)

Klyde Finds Inspiration At Udvar-Hazy... FMI: www.klydemorris.com>[...]

AeroSports Update: The Two Eagles Are Headed Across The Pacific

Balloon Pilots Are In Flight For A More Than 6,000 Mile Journey To Cross The Pacific From West To East It was announced at the Albuquerque Balloon Fest last year that pilots Troy B>[...]

Aero-News: Quote Of The Day (01.26.15)

"'Unlawful use of an unmanned vehicle or aircraft to capture an image' would include: Sound waves; Thermal, infrared, ultraviolet, or visible light or other Electromagnetic waves; >[...]

blog comments powered by Disqus



Advertisement

Advertisement

Podcasts

Advertisement

© 2007 - 2015 Web Development & Design by Pauli Systems, LC