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Cryogenic Orbital Testbed (CRYOTE) Ground Test Article, Final ReportLiquid propulsion has been used since Robert Goddard started developing a liquid oxygen (LO2) and gasoline powered rocket and fired it in 1923 (Ref. 1). In the following decades engineers settled on the combination of liquid hydrogen (LH2) and LO2 as the most efficient propellant combination for in-space travel. Due to their low temperatures (LH2 at 20 K and LO2 at 90 K), they require special handling and procedures. General Dynamics began developing LO2 and LH2 upper stages in 1956 in the form of Centaur, these efforts were soon funded by the Department of Defense in conjunction with NASA (beginning in 1958) (Ref. 2). Meanwhile NASA also worked with McDonnell Douglas to develop the SIV-B stage for the Saturn V rocket. In the subsequent years, the engineers were able to push the Centaur to up to 9 hr of orbital lifetime and the SIV-B to up to 6 hr. Due to venting the resultant boil-off from the high heat loads through the foam insulation on the upper stages, both vehicles remained in a settled configuration throughout the flights, thus the two phases of propellant (liquid and vapor) were separated at a known location. The one exception to this were the Titan/Centaur missions, which thanks to the lower boil-off using three layers of multilayer insulation (MLI), were able to coast unsettled for up to 5.25 hr during direct geosynchronous orbit insertion missions. In the years since there has been a continuous effort to extend the life of these upper stages from hours to days or even months.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Glenn Research Center
Document Type
Technical Memorandum (TM)
Johnson, Wesley L.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Rhys, Noah O.
(Yetispace, Inc. Huntsville, AL, United States)
Bradley, David E.
(Yetispace, Inc. Huntsville, AL, United States)
Wollen, Mark
(Innovative Engineering Solutions Murrieta, CA, United States)
Kutter, Bernard
(United Launch Alliance Denver, CO, United States)
Gravlee, Mari
(United Launch Alliance Denver, CO, United States)
Walls, Laurie K.
(NASA Kennedy Space Center Cocoa Beach, FL, United States)
Date Acquired
December 1, 2015
Publication Date
October 1, 2015
Subject Category
Fluid Mechanics And Thermodynamics
Spacecraft Design, Testing And Performance
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 359615.
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
Joule-Thompson Effect
Multilayer Insulation
Cryogenic Fluid Management
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