Tethered orbital propellant depotA planned function of the Space Station is to refurbish and refuel an advanced space-based LO2/LH2 orbit transfer vehicle. An alternative to propellant storage at the station is to use a remote facility tied to the station with a log tether. Preliminary design of such a facility is described with emphasis on fluid transfer and storage requirements. Using tether lengths of at least 300 ft, gravity gradient forces will dominate surface tension in such a system. Although gravity given transfer is difficult because of line pressure drops, fluid settling over the tank outlet greatly alleviates acquisition concerns and will facilitate vented tank fills. The major concern with a tethered orbital refueling facility is its considerable operational complexity including transport of the OTV to and from the facility.
Fester, D. A. (Martin Marietta Aerospace Denver, CO, United States)
Rudolph, L. K. (Martin Marietta Aerospace Denver, CO, United States)
Kiefel, E. R. (Martin Marietta Corp. Denver, CO, United States)