NASA 'game-changing' space propellant tank to stay grounded for now

Mar 21, 2014 by Elizabeth Howell, Universe Today
As of 2014, NASA and Boeing are developing a propellant tank made of composite materials to hold cryogenic (low-temperature) gases in space. Initially slated for a 2018 test flight, NASA’s 2015 budget will keep these tanks on the ground for the foreseeable future. Credit: NASA/MSFC/Emmett Given

A lighter and stronger "game-changing" tank that could have flown in space in a few years will be tested on the ground only, at least for now, according to the NASA budget and a few reports.

Last year, the agency conducted ground tests on a composite propellant tank intended to be better than its heavier counterparts, saving on launch costs. At the time, NASA said it was aiming to test this on a demonstration flight in 2018, but the new says testing will stay grounded.

"Cryogenic Propellant Storage and Transfer will reformulate from a flight demonstration mission into a series of large-scale ground demonstrations supportive of future exploration propulsion needs and upgraded versions of SLS," the agency stated, which could leave the door open for future tests in .

The information is mentioned on Page 336 of the 713-page budget request document NASA released earlier this month. The budget is not finalized and is subject to approval from Congress. More high-profile cuts include the SOFIA airborne telescope and the Opportunity Mars rover mission.

The cryogenic change was mentioned in a few news reports, and then highlighted in a press release today (Thursday) from an advocacy group called the Space Development Steering Committee, who says these tanks would have been good for space-based refueling stations.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

"Instead of trying out technologies designed for space where they count—in space—space gas station technologies are now going to be tested down here on Earth, where we already know how to make them function," SDSC's press release read. "Down here where we do not face the challenges of weightlessness and vacuum.  Down here where it's useless."

The SDSC includes the heads of the National Space Society, the Space Frontier Foundation, and the Mars Society, plus past astronauts and former NASA employees (among others). In November, the committee released an unfunded gas-tanks-in-space proposal to fuel missions to Mars.

Explore further: NASA tests new robotic refueling technologies

More information: www.nasa.gov/topics/technology… atures/cryotank.html

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Game-changing propellant tank arrives at Marshall

Nov 28, 2012

(Phys.org)—A 2.4-meter-diameter propellant tank made of composite materials arrived on Nov. 20, 2012 at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., where engineers are preparing it for testing. ...

NASA tests game changing composite cryogenic fuel tank

Jul 08, 2013

NASA recently completed a major space technology development milestone by successfully testing a pressurized, large cryogenic propellant tank made of composite materials. The composite tank will enable the next generation ...

NASA tests new robotic refueling technologies

Mar 06, 2014

NASA has successfully concluded a remotely controlled test of new technologies that would empower future space robots to transfer hazardous oxidizer – a type of propellant – into the tanks of satellites ...

NASA engineers crush fuel tank to build better rockets

Dec 18, 2013

(Phys.org) —NASA completed a series of high-tech can-crushing tests last week as an enormous fuel tank crumbled under the pressure of almost a million pounds of force, all in the name of building lighter, ...

House panel discuses Mars 2021 manned flyby mission

Mar 03, 2014

(Phys.org) —The U.S. House of Representative's Science, Space and Technology Committee has met to discuss the virtues and possibility of asking NASA to assist a private foundation in conducting a manned ...

US, France sign deal for 2016 Mars lander

Feb 11, 2014

The United States and France unveiled plans to collaborate on a new Mars mission, two years after NASA withdrew from a European partnership to send a probe and lander to the Red Planet.

Recommended for you

India's spacecraft 'on target' to reach Mars

11 hours ago

An Indian spacecraft is on course to reach Mars, an official said Monday, following a 666-million-kilometre voyage that could see New Delhi's low-cost space programme win Asia's race to the Red Planet.

Rosetta's lander Philae will target Site J

13 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Rosetta's lander Philae will target Site J, an intriguing region on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko that offers unique scientific potential, with hints of activity nearby, and minimum risk ...

User comments : 0