Composite crew module encounters space vacuum

Jun 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's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA Prepares for First Unmanned Test of Orion

Mar 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.

NASA Glenn to Test Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle

Mar 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 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.

NASA has a crush on you

Mar 23, 2011

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

Image: NASA's world's largest vacuum chamber

Feb 03, 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.

Recommended for you

Easter morning delivery for space station

2 hours ago

Space station astronauts got a special Easter treat: a cargo ship full of supplies. The shipment arrived Sunday morning via the SpaceX company's Dragon cargo capsule.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

19 hours ago

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Sun emits a mid-level solar flare

Apr 18, 2014

The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 9:03 a.m. EDT on April 18, 2014, and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Easter morning delivery for space station

Space station astronauts got a special Easter treat: a cargo ship full of supplies. The shipment arrived Sunday morning via the SpaceX company's Dragon cargo capsule.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...