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Large Scale Testing of a Foam/Multilayer Insulation Thermal Control System (TCS) for Cryogenic Upper StagesThe development of high energy cryogenic upper stages is essential for the efficient delivery of large payloads to various destinations envisioned in future programs. A key element in such upper stages is cryogenic fluid management (CFM) advanced development/technology. Due to the cost of and limited opportunities for orbital experiments, ground testing must be employed to the fullest extent possible. Therefore, a system level test bed termed the Multipurpose Hydrogen Test Bed (MHTB), which is representative in size and shape (3 meter diameter by 3 meter long with a volume of 18 cubic meters) of a fully integrated space transportation vehicle liquid hydrogen propellant tank has been established. To date, upper stage studies have often baselined the foam/multilayer insulation (FMLI) combination concept; however, hardware experience with the concept is minimal and was therefore selected for the MHTB. The foam element (isofoam SS-1 171 with an average thickness of 3.5 centimeters) is designed to protect against ground hold/ascent flight environments, and allows for the use of a dry nitrogen purge as opposed to the more complex/heavy helium purge subsystem normally required with MLI in cryogenic applications. The MLI (45 layers of Double Aluminized Mylar with Dacron spacers) provides protection in the vacuum environment of space and is designed for an on-orbit storage period of 45 days. Several unique features were incorporated in the MLI concept and included: variable density MLI (reduces weight and radiation losses by changing the layer density), larger but fewer DAM perforations for venting during ascent to orbit (reduces radiation losses), and roll wrap installation of the MLI with a commercially established process to lower assembly man-hours and reduce seam heat leak. Thermal performance testing of the MHTB TCS was conducted during three test series conducted between September 1995 and May 1996. Results for the ground hold portion of the tests were as expected producing an average heat leak of 63 WattS/M2 at an average foam surface temperature of 170 K. The results of the simulated orbit hold test interval produced heat leaks ranging from 0.085 to 0.22 Watts/squareM at warm boundary temperatures of 164K and 305K, respectively. When compared to the performance for a traditional MLI system, a 60% reduction in orbital heat leak or boiloff was measured. Overall, the MHTB TCS demonstrated satisfactory performance for all mission phases required of a cryogenic upper stage.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Hastings, Leon
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)
Martin, James
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1998
Subject Category
Nonmetallic Materials
Meeting Information
Meeting: Space Technology and Applications International Forum
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Country: United States
Start Date: January 25, 1998
End Date: January 29, 1998
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