Boeing’s large, fully-composite, lineless cryogenic fuel tank has passed a critical series of tests at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and, by doing so, has proved itself as a mature, safe and ready to use technology for aerospace vehicles.
Measuring 4.3-meters, the cryogenic fuel tank is a similar size to those that will be used in the upper stage of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. However, if the rocket was fitting with Boeing’s recently approved technology, the weight savings could increase payload masses by up to 30%.
In order to pass the NASA tests, both Boeing and NASA engineers filled the vessel with cryogenic fluid in multiple test cycles, pressurising the tank to expected operational loads. During the final test, pressures reached 3.75 times the design requirements without any major structural failure.
Carlos Guzman, Composite Cryotank Manufacturing Lead at Boeing, said, “Composites are the next major technological advancement for large aerospace cryogenic storage structures. And while they can be challenging to work with, they offer significant advantages over traditional metallic structures.”
“Boeing has the right mix of experience, expertise and resources to continue to advance this technology and bring it to market in a variety of applications across aerospace and aeronautics.”
Steve Wanthal, Test Programme Manager at Boeing, added, “NASA’s support through this testing has been invaluable. We were able to use their technical expertise and investments made in the testing infrastructure at the Marshall Space Flight Center to continue to advance this technology, which will ultimately benefit the entire industry.”