COMPOSITE LIQUID OXYGEN TANK SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETES INITIAL PROOF TESTS
NEW ORLEANS, LA., 30-AUG-01 -- A joint Lockheed Martin/NASA effort has led to the successful initial testing of a composite tank in liquid oxygen (LO2). This is the first sub-scale cryogenic composite tank built of a composite material that is compatible with LO2. Lockheed Martin designed and built the composite tank, and NASA is testing it at the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC). The tank has successfully completed the initial cycles of cryogenic proof testing in LO2.
In testing, the tank is enduring thermal and pressure environments that simulate flight conditions for an LO2 tank. The tank will continue testing at MSFC with LO2 to demonstrate Second Generation Reusable Launch Vehicle mission life capabilities.
Using state-of-the-art cryogenic composite tank analysis, fabrication, and inspection techniques, Lockheed Martin designed and constructed the tank at both MSFC and the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.
The composite tank is approximately 9? feet long, 4? feet in diameter and weighs less than 500 pounds, which represents an 18 percent weight savings over a metal tank of similar construction. Composites are seen as one of the key components in NASA’s and the industry’s drive to decrease the weight of future launch vehicles as a means of reducing the cost of launching payloads into orbit from the current $10,000 per pound to $1,000 per pound.
NASA at MSFC and at White Sands Test Facility has worked together with Lockheed Martin since 1997 to develop the approach and test methods for demonstrating composite LO2 tanks. NASA and Lockheed Martin tested the material extensively following a building-block approach. This approach began with coupon testing, progressing to panels, then to specific tank type interfaces and joints, scaling up to small bottles, and finally to this large scale tank.
To download a composite LO2 tank picture, go to Lockheed Martin Space Systems -- Michoud Operations’ website at http://www.lockheedmartin.com/michoud/ and click on Image Gallery.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems -- Michoud Operations designs and assembles large aluminum and composite structures for aerospace and other applications.