Composite crew module encounters space vacuum

June 20, 2012 By Kim Newton
The Composite Crew Module being rolled into the vacuum chamber at Marshall's Environmental Test Facility. The test will continue through the end of the summer. Credit: NASA/MSFC/Emmett Given

(Phys.org) -- This week, engineers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., moved a Composite Crew Module (CCM) into the Environmental Test Facility vacuum chamber to gauge how well a space structure fabricated with composite materials will react in a simulated space environment. Data gained during this test series will aid in the design and development of future in-space composite habitable structures.

During the vacuum test, the chamber is sealed and purged to a level a vehicle would encounter on orbit to evaluate the composite material's integrity. The is filled with to allow engineers to detect any leaks that may occur as pressure increases. Vacuum testing will yield a leak rate for the entire structure, then the team works to repair small leaks that may arise to improve the hardware's performance.

The test team includes members from the Marshall Center; NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.; Goddard Space Flight Center in Md.; in Fla.; and the Boeing Company in Huntsville. To date, the team has completed ten tests and will continue testing through the end of the summer.

The crew module was designed to test new materials and fabrication techniques that may be used in future structures, which will be constructed of both metals and composites. The Composite Crew Module Project is led by NASA's Engineering and Science Center at Langley.

Fabricated at Alliant Techsystems in Iuka, Miss., the CCM was constructed in two parts using a hand layup technique, which combines carbon fiber epoxy and an aluminum honeycomb core. The two parts were joined together and then bonded in a unique process developed at the Marshall Center for the crew module. The project team is a partnership between NASA and industry and includes design, manufacturing, testing, inspection, and tooling expertise.

Explore further: NASA Glenn to Test Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle

Related Stories

NASA Glenn to Test Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle

March 19, 2007

NASA's Glenn Research Center will conduct integrated environmental testing of the Orion crew exploration vehicle in the Space Power Facility at the center's Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio.

NASA Prepares for First Unmanned Test of Orion

March 12, 2008

Returning humans to the moon by 2020 may seem like a distant goal, but NASA's Constellation Program already has scheduled the first test flight toward that goal to take place in less than 12 months.

Image: NASA's world's largest vacuum chamber

February 3, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- The world's largest vacuum chamber resides at the NASA Glenn Research Center's Space Power Facility, located at Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio.

NASA has a crush on you

March 23, 2011

It's almost one-million pounds of force on the "can," and they want to see it buckle.

NASA conducts tests on Orion service module

May 11, 2012

(Phys.org) -- Engineers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center are testing parts of the Orion service module to ensure the spacecraft can withstand the harsh realities of deep space missions.

Recommended for you

Milky way had a blowout bash six million years ago

August 29, 2016

The center of the Milky Way galaxy is currently a quiet place where a supermassive black hole slumbers, only occasionally slurping small sips of hydrogen gas. But it wasn't always this way. A new study shows that 6 million ...

NASA's Juno successfully completes Jupiter flyby

August 29, 2016

NASA's Juno mission successfully executed its first of 36 orbital flybys of Jupiter today. The time of closest approach with the gas-giant world was 6:44 a.m. PDT (9:44 a.m. EDT, 13:44 UTC) when Juno passed about 2,600 miles ...

The proliferation of Jupiter-like worlds

August 29, 2016

Our galaxy is home to a bewildering variety of Jupiter-like worlds: hot ones, cold ones, giant versions of our own giant, pint-sized pretenders only half as big around.

Hubble spots an irregular island in a sea of space

August 29, 2016

This image, courtesy of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), captures the glow of distant stars within NGC 5264, a dwarf galaxy located just over 15 million light-years away in the constellation ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.