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Reusable Launch Vehicle: Technology Development and Test Program REUSABLE LAUNCH VEHICLE Technology Development and Test Program Committee on Reusable Launch Vehicle Technology and Test Program Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1995
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Reusable Launch Vehicle: Technology Development and Test Program NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the panel responsible for the report were chosen for their special competencies and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Harold Liebowitz is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. Harold Liebowitz are chairman and vice-chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 95-73106 International Standard Book Number 0-309-05437-0 Available in limited supply from: The Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20418 Additional copies of the report available for sale from: National Academy Press 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Box 285 Washington, D.C. 20055 800-624-6242 202-334-3313 (in the Washington Metropolitan Area) Copyright 1995 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America
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Reusable Launch Vehicle: Technology Development and Test Program COMMITTEE ON REUSABLE LAUNCH VEHICLE TECHNOLOGY AND TEST PROGRAM RICHARD A. HARTUNIAN, Chair, Aerospace Corporation (Ret.), San Pedro, California RICHARD ARSENAULT, University of Maryland at College Park, College Park, Maryland YVONNE C. BRILL, Skillman, New Jersey PAUL CASTENHOLZ, Colorado Springs, Colorado JAMES R. FRENCH, JRF Engineering Services, Los Angeles, California CLARK W. JOHNSON, Hughes Space and Communications Company, Los Angeles, California MARSHALL H. KAPLAN, Launchspace, Inc., Falls Church, Virginia HUGH McMANUS, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts EDGAR A. STARKE, Jr., University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia RICHARD R. WEISS, Richard R. Weiss Consultant Services, Palmdale, California PETER G. WILHELM, Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C. Advisor ERIC STRAUSS, Englewood, Colorado ASEB Liaison JOHN K. BUCKNER, Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems, Fort Worth, Texas Staff JOANN C. CLAYTON, Director ALI ESKANDARIAN, Study Director WILLIAM E. CAMPBELL, Administrative Assistant
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Reusable Launch Vehicle: Technology Development and Test Program AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ENGINEERING BOARD JACK L. KERREBROCK, Chair, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts STEVEN AFTERGOOD, Federation of American Scientists, Washington, D.C. JOSEPH P. ALLEN, Space Industries International, Inc., Washington, D.C. GUION S. BLUFORD, Jr., NYMA, Inc., Brook Park, Ohio JOHN K. BUCKNER, Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems, Fort Worth, Texas RAYMOND S. COLLADAY, Martin Marietta Astronautics, Denver, Colorado RUTH M. DAVIS, Pymatuning Group, Inc., Alexandria, Virginia STEVEN M. DORFMAN, Hughes Telecommunications and Space Company, General Motors Hughes Electronics, Los Angeles, California DONALD C. FRASER, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts JOHN M. HEDGEPETH, Digisim Corporation, Santa Barbara, California TAKEO KANADE, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania BERNARD L. KOFF, Pratt & Whitney, West Palm Beach, Florida DONALD J. KUTYNA, Loral Corporation, Colorado Springs, Colorado JOHN M. LOGSDON, George Washington University, Washington, D.C. ROBERT R. LYNN, Bell Helicopter Textron, Euless, Texas FRANK E. MARBLE, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California C. JULIAN MAY, Tech/Ops International, Inc., Kennesaw, Georgia BRADFORD W. PARKINSON, Stanford University, Stanford, California ALFRED SCHOCK, Orbital Sciences Corporation, Germantown, Maryland JOHN D. WARNER, The Boeing Company, Seattle, Washington Staff Director: JOANN C. CLAYTON
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Reusable Launch Vehicle: Technology Development and Test Program Preface The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) requested that the National Research Council (NRC) assess the Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) technology development and test programs in the most critical component technologies. At a time when discretionary government spending is under close scrutiny, the RLV program is designed to reduce the cost of access to space through a combination of robust vehicles and a streamlined infrastructure. Routine access to space has obvious benefits for space science, national security, commercial technologies, and the further exploration of space. Because of technological challenges, knowledgeable people disagree about the feasibility of a single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO) vehicle. The purpose of the RLV program proposed by NASA and industry contractors is to investigate the status of existing technology and to identify and advance key technology areas required for development and validation of an SSTO vehicle. This report does not address the feasibility of an SSTO vehicle, nor does it revisit the roles and responsibilities assigned to NASA by the National Transportation Policy. Instead, the report sets forth the NRC committee's findings and recommendations regarding the RLV technology development and test program in the critical areas of propulsion, a reusable cryogenic tank system (RCTS), primary vehicle structure, and a thermal protection system (TPS). Because of the divergent approaches to and unique requirements for each of the key technology areas, the committee quickly discovered the equivalent of four reports would be needed to do justice to the program. Therefore, this report emphasizes each of the four key component areas and addresses issues pertaining to the performance, producibility, and reusability of each. Advances in all of these areas are critical to reducing the cost of access to space. The committee would like to express its appreciation to the many NASA and industry teams that invested long days describing their programs and answering questions. The committee also appreciates their willingness to provide additional clarification. A list of the participants in meetings with the committee appears as Appendix A. In addition, the chairman would like to express his appreciation to the committee members for their extensive contributions to this study with extra thanks to the leaders of the technical areas for taking on that additional responsibility. Finally, the invaluable contributions of the NRC staff are gratefully acknowledged: JoAnn Clayton for her
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Reusable Launch Vehicle: Technology Development and Test Program advice to the chairman and assistance in preparing background material and editing sections of the report; Dr. Ali Eskandarian for his tireless efforts in arranging all the briefings, for collating, editing, and commenting on the committee's additions to the final report, and for providing counsel to the chairman; and Bill Campbell for his many contributions throughout the study, including preparation of numerous drafts of the report. Richard A. Hartunian, Chairman Committee on Reusable Launch Vehicle Technology Development and Test Program
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Reusable Launch Vehicle: Technology Development and Test Program Contents LIST OF FIGURES AND TABLES ix EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1 1 INTRODUCTION 11 Background 11 Decision Criteria 14 Study Task 15 Approach 16 Organization of the Report 17 Notes 17 2 PRIMARY VEHICLE STRUCTURE 19 Introduction 19 Decision Criteria 20 NASA/Industry Programs 20 Findings and Recommendations 25 Notes 27 3 REUSABLE CRYOGENIC TANK SYSTEM 28 Introduction 28 Decision Criteria 28 NASA/Industry Programs—Al-Li Cryogenic Tanks 30 Findings and Recommendations—Al-Li Cryogenic Tanks 31 NASA/Industry Programs—Organic-Matrix Composite Tanks 36 Findings and Recommendations—Organic-Matrix Composite Tanks 38 Notes 41
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Reusable Launch Vehicle: Technology Development and Test Program 4 THERMAL PROTECTION SYSTEM 43 Introduction 43 Decision Criteria 46 NASA/Industry Programs 47 Findings and Recommendations 52 Notes 54 5 PROPULSION 55 Introduction 55 Decision Criteria 56 NASA/Industry Programs 57 Findings and Recommendations 73 6 CONCLUSIONS AND OBSERVATIONS 76 Materials 77 Propulsion 78 Observations 79 APPENDICES A List of Participants 81 B Biographical Sketches of Committee Members 83 C List of Acronyms/Abbreviations 88
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Reusable Launch Vehicle: Technology Development and Test Program List of Tables and Figures TABLES 4-1 Space Shuttle TPS Damage 44 4-2 100 Mission Maximum Operating Temperature for Space Shuttle Orbiter 44 4-3 TPS Concepts for Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) 50-52 5-1 NASA/Industry Cooperative Propulsion Technology Programs 58-60 5-2 Characteristics of Flight-Proven 400,00 lb Thrust LOX/LH2 Engines 62 FIGURES 1-1 RLV Technology Demonstration Program 12 1-2 RLV Program Phase Descriptions 12 2-1 What Does It Take to Achieve SSTO? 21 4-1 Examples of Cryogenic Tank Configurations 45
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