SPACE FLIGHT SYSTEMS RADIOISOTOPE POWER SYSTEMS PROGRAM OFFICE NATIONAL CENTER FOR SPACE EXPLORATION RESEARCH EXTERNAL PARTNERS EDUCATION/OUTREACH SPACE EXPLORATION BENEFITS PROGRAM SUPPORT IMAGE GALLERY



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Composite Cryotank


"The Composite Cryogenic Propellant Tank project will develop and ground demonstrate large-scale composite cryogenic propellant tanks applicable to heavy-lift launch vehicles, propellant depots, and future lander systems."


composite cryotank

The Composite Cryogenic Propellant Tank project will develop and ground demonstrate large-scale composite cryogenic propellant tanks applicable to heavy-lift launch vehicles, propellant depots, and future lander systems. The demonstrations will include near full-scale (5m and up to 10m diameter) manufacturing (in autoclave and/or out-of autoclave), as well as loads and environmental testing. Fabrication and testing will include composite panels, as well as panel joints to form completed tanks.

The primary objective of the CCTD project is to mature the technology readiness of composite cryogenic propellant tanks at diameters that are suitable for future heavy lift vehicles and other in-space applications. The propellant requirement for heavy lift launch vehicles with payload capabilities of 130 metric tons is massive, requiring huge propellant tanks on the order of 10 meters in diameter.

During FY2011, NASA and four industry partners completed a Phase I activity to develop conceptual designs for 10m-diameter composite cryogenic tanks with a goal of significantly reducing the weight and cost from current state-of-the-art aluminum-lithium tanks. These designs included material trades and structural loads analyses, as well as fabrication trades, autoclave versus out-of-autoclave options, tooling, manufacturing and facilities, and inspection and repair. Designs addressed the permeation of cryogenic propellants, minimization of micro-cracking, and leak-free concepts. Results from these studies identified critical features and high-risk issues for 10m composite tanks, and provided recommendations for starting with fabricating smaller tanks and performing tests to address these risks. The CCTD project starts with the results of the 10m tank designs developed in Phase I, and proceeds with recommendations from industry and NASA expertise to start with fabrication and testing of smaller diameter tanks. Boeing, the contractor selected for the Phase II activities, will design, fabricate, and test tanks on the order of 5m in diameter or smaller. These smaller diameter tanks will retain the critical high-risk features of the 10m designs, and employ similar fabrication, manufacturing, and inspection processes. Critical elements of the tank, such as joints, splices, and fasteners, will be built separately and tested in liquid hydrogen to verify out-of-autoclave curing processes before the 5m tank is fabricated.

 

 

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