NASA’s Space Power Facility at the Plum Brook site in Sadnusky, Ohio houses the world’s largest space environment simulation vacuum chamber, measuring 100ft diameter by 122ft high.

The new facility, at NASA Reverberant Acoustic Test Facility for the Constellation Program and the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle, was designed and constructed to test both nuclear and non-nuclear space hardware and was upgraded by Benham/SAIC Constructors. But it wasn’t all astrophysics, indeed industrial gas technologist Chart played a pivotal role in the project.

As part of the upgrade, Chart provided the design, engineering, manufacturing, supply and commissioning of all LN2 supply equipment. The Chart system is used to provide nitrogen gas through acoustic horns and as an inert purge gas.

Neil Waggoner, PE RAFT Project Manager for Benham Constructors / SAIC, commented on the important part played by the industrial gas company, “Chart’s expertise and willingness to be a team player were instrumental for the success of this project.”

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The horn room, which Chart create, contained 36 nitrogen-driven acoustic horns to simulate the high noise levels that will be experienced during a space vehicle launch and supersonic ascent conditions.

Chart also provided technical expertise and advice in high-pressure liquid supply systems. Working with Benham/SAIC Constructors and the end user, the firm designed and manufactured a pump-less system. The system is capable of storing and delivering liquid nitrogen at 780 gpm at a constant pressure of 300 psig for a duration of 20 minutes and one test per day. The liquid nitrogen flows into the water-bath vapouriser which supports a vapourisation of a flow rate of 72,000 scfm.

The system utilises a high pressure VS-6000 pusher tank at 370 psig (500 MAWP) to provide vapour pressure on two VS-9000 storage tanks at 300 psig (363 MAWP) to support the flow rates required during liquid withdrawal. The system is controlled by Benham’s SCADA system by using two separate PID control loops and two CPT characterised seat control valves to maintain pressures of all three tanks for a ready-to-use status.