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LV-IMLI: Integrated MLI/Aeroshell for Cryogenic Launch Vehicles, Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

LV-IMLI: Integrated MLI/Aeroshell for Cryogenic Launch Vehicles, Phase I
Cryogenic propellants have the highest energy density of any rocket fuel, and are used in most NASA and commercial launch vehicles to power their ascent. Cryogenic propellants must be kept cold to preserve them and prevent loss via boil off, therefore cryogenic launch vehicles and spacecraft must have thermal insulation preserving the cryopropellant. Providing good thermal insulation is a balancing act between the insulation desired, the mass of the insulation system, and the robustness of the insulation. SOFI, for example, has high heat leak and is not robust. Quest Product Development Corp, and partner Ball Aerospace, propose to design, fabricate and test innovative Launch VehicleMLI (LV-MLI), an integrated advanced thermal insulation and lightweight aeroshell for launch vehicle exposed cryopropellant tanks. A ruggedized of Integrated MLI, high performance lightweight thermal insulation, could be bonded to the sidewalls of LOX/LH2 cryotanks in the Atlas V and Delta IV and might be able to withstand aerodynamic loading during launch ascent. LV-MLI has the potential to significantly improve upper stage cryogenic tank thermal insulation, and might increase payload capacity for NASA, national security and commercial missions that require multi-hour coasts such as required for MEO and GEO orbit insertion. LV-MLI should have 34% the mass of the SOFI insulation, while providing about 85 times better thermal insulation. This Phase I research will evaluate Launch Vehicle-MLI aerodynamic and thermal requirements, analyze aerodynamic and acoustic vibration launch loading, design LV-MLI insulation system to withstand those aerodynamic and launch environment loads, design and build a unique launch dynamic load simulator, build and test a LV-MLI prototype for aerodynamic and vibration simulated launch loads, and finally compare the structural and thermal performance of LV-MLI to the requirements and modeled/predicted performance. More »

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This is a historic project that was completed before the creation of TechPort on October 1, 2012. Available data has been included. This record may contain less data than currently active projects.

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