NASA picks Boeing for composite cryogenic propellant tank tests

  • 30-Sep-2011 09:41 EDT
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NASA is studying the possibility of using a cryogenic propellant storage facility such as the one shown to store rocket propellant in space to refuel spacecraft.

NASA has selected the Boeing Co. for the Composite Cryotank Technologies Demonstration effort. Under the contract, Boeing will design, manufacture, and test two lightweight composite cryogenic propellant tanks. The demonstration effort will use advanced composite materials to develop new technologies that could be applied to multiple future NASA missions, including human space exploration beyond low Earth orbit. Boeing will receive approximately $24 million over the project life cycle from NASA's Space Technology Program for the work that started in September. The tanks will be manufactured at a Boeing facility in Seattle. Testing will start in late 2013 at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL. The goal of this particular technology demonstration effort is to achieve a 30% weight savings and a 25% cost savings from traditional metallic tanks. The tanks incorporate design features and new manufacturing processes applicable to designs up to 10 m in diameter. Tanks could be used on future heavy-lift vehicles, in-space propellant depots, and other Earth-departure exploration architectures.

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