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An Empirical Non-TNT Approach to Launch Vehicle Explosion ModelingIn an effort to increase crew survivability from catastrophic explosions of Launch Vehicles (LV), a study was conducted to determine the best method for predicting LV explosion environments in the near field. After reviewing such methods as TNT equivalence, Vapor Cloud Explosion (VCE) theory, and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), it was determined that the best approach for this study was to assemble all available empirical data from full scale launch vehicle explosion tests and accidents. Approximately 25 accidents or full-scale tests were found that had some amount of measured blast wave, thermal, or fragment explosion environment characteristics. Blast wave overpressure was found to be much lower in the near field than predicted by most TNT equivalence methods. Additionally, fragments tended to be larger, fewer, and slower than expected if the driving force was from a high explosive type event. In light of these discoveries, a simple model for cryogenic rocket explosions is presented. Predictions from this model encompass all known applicable full scale launch vehicle explosion data. Finally, a brief description of on-going analysis and testing to further refine the launch vehicle explosion environment is discussed.

Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Blackwood, James M.
(Bangham Engineering, Inc. Huntsville, AL, United States)
Skinner, Troy
(Bangham Engineering, Inc. Huntsville, AL, United States)
Richardson, Erin H.
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Bangham, Michal E.
(Bangham Engineering, Inc. Huntsville, AL, United States)
Date Acquired
March 13, 2015
Publication Date
January 5, 2015
Subject Category
Propellants And Fuels
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: AIAA SciTech 2015
Location: Kissimmee, FL
Country: United States
Start Date: January 5, 2015
End Date: January 9, 2015
Sponsors: American Inst. of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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