Cryogenic Tank Manufacturing, Development, and Testing

Cryogenic Tank Manufacturing, Development, and Testing


Game Changing is about finding the transformative technologies. The ones that will enable new missions and new capabilities for the Agency. That disruptive technology, if you will. And, what we mean by game changing would be orders of magnitude of improvements, changing the way a thing is done or made. Significant decrease in mass and costs, things like that. Game Changing really means that we will have projects that have a big payoff. They also incur a big risk within the project. Our Composites Cryotank project is developing technologies in several area concurrently. We are looking at advanced materials, were looking at very advanced manufacturing processes. The design and analysis processes that we go through are of extremely high sophistication and fidelity. The composite cryotank project can really dramatically reduce the cost and reduce the weight of the tanks that are required for the heavy lift launch vehicles. The state of the art for tankage for launch vehicles today is aluminum or an advanced alloy, aluminum lithium alloy. The materials we are working with are composite materials. Composites are new but their really the materials of the future for aerospace. These are fairly large sized tanks, The 2.4 meter, we call that our little tank, but it’s 8 foot diameter tank, a little over 8 foot diameter tank, so it’s a fairly big tank. The 5 and a half meter is a large tank.We decided to test those here at Marshall because Marshall has the facilities to test large scale tanks and large scale structures and we have the experience to do that. So it was just a fit to get the tank made and manufacured and designed by Boeing, and then to do the testing here at Marshall.So the 2.4 meter tank as well as our 5.5 meter are built using new out-of autoclave material. And the 2.4 meter tank, the one that has already been manufactured, is the first successful fiber placed tank using this out-of-autoclave material.So both of our tanks are using out-of-autoclave processes. An autoclave is a very large oven that also provided pressure during the curing of our tanks. That is a large investment upwards of $50 million or more.So we are developing our tanks to be designed outside of the autoclave. So instead of an autoclave, we are using a much cheaper oven cure.So Game Changing needs to be not providing an incremental benefit, so not providing a one percent weight savings or not providing a five percent weight savings. The composite cryotank is providing a fourty percent weight savings. So that allows NASA to look at the way they plan new missions

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