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The Manufacturing Process for the NASA Composite Crew Module Demonstration StructureThis paper will describe the approaches and methods selected in fabrication of a carbon composite demonstration structure for the Composite Crew Module (CCM) Program. The program is managed by the NASA Safety and Engineering Center with participants from ten NASA Centers and AFRL. Multiple aerospace contractors are participating in the design development, tooling and fabrication effort as well. The goal of the program is to develop an agency wide design team for composite habitable spacecraft. The specific goals for this development project are: a).To gain hands on experience in design, building and testing a composite crew module. b) To validate key assumptions by resolving composite spacecraft design details through fabrication and testing of hardware. This abstract is based on Preliminary Design data..The final design will continue to evolve through the fall of 2007 with fabrication mostly completed by conference date. From a structures perspective, the.CCM can be viewed as a pressure module with variable pressure time histories and a series of both impact and quasi-static, high intensity point, line, and area distributed loads. The portion of the overall space vehicle being designed and. fabricated by the CCM team is just the pressure module and primary loading points. The heaviest point loads are applied and distributed to the pressure module aluminum Service Module/Alternate Launch Abort System (SM/ALAS) fittings and at Main and Drogue Chute fittings. Significant line loads with metal to metal impact is applied at.the Lids ring. These major external point and line loads as well as pressure impact loads (blast and water landing) are applied to the lobed floor though the reentry shield and crushable materials. The pressure module is divided into upper and lower. shells that mate together with a bonded belly band splice joint to create the completed structural assembly. The benefits of a split CCM far outweigh the risks of a joint. These benefits include lower tooling cost and less manufacturing risk. Assembly of the top and bottom halves of the pressure shell will allow access to the interior of the shell throughout remaining fabrication sequence and can also potentially permit extensive installation of equipment and .crew facilities prior to final assembly of the two shell halves. A Pi pre-form is a woven carbon composite material which is provided in pre-impregnated form and frozen for long term storage. The cross-section shape allows the top of the pi to be bonded to a flat or curved surface with a second flat plate composite section bonded between two upstanding legs of the Pi. One of the regions relying on the merits of the Pi pre-form is the backbone. All connections among plates of the backbone structure, including the upper flanges, and to the lobe base of the pressure shell are currently joined by Pi pre-forms. The intersection of backbone composite plates is formed by application of two Pi pre-forms, top flanges and lobed surfaces are bonded with one Pi pre-form. The process of applying the pre-impregnated pi-preform will be demonstrated to include important steps like surface preparation, forming, application of pressure dams, vacuum bagging for consolidation, and curing techniques. Chopped carbon fiber tooling was selected over other traditional metallic and carbon fiber tooling. The requirement of schedule and cost economy for a moderate reuse cure tool warranted composite tooling options. Composite tooling schedule duration of 18 weeks compared favorably against other metallic tooling including invar tooling. Composite tooling also shows significant cost savings over low CTE metallic options. The composite tooling options were divided into two groups and the final decision was based on the cost, schedule, tolerance, temperature, and reuse requirements.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Pelham, Larry
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Higgins, John E.
(Air Force Research Lab. Kirkland AFB, NM, United States)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
March 3, 2008
Subject Category
Spacecraft Design, Testing And Performance
Meeting Information
and Space Conference 2008: 11th International Conference on Engineering, Science, Construction, and Operations in Challenging Environments(Long Beach, CA)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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