NASA to study Ares rocket propellant tank explosion risks

by | Aug 27, 2008 | Seradata News | 3 comments

NASA Ames Research Center is to study the uncertainty in simulations of Ares launch vehicles propellant tank explosions, in particular the “potential consequences of leakage” through a liquid hdyrogen (LH2), liquid oxygen (LOX) tank common bulkhead with simulations of bulkhead leaks, LOX/LH2 tank drop tests and boiling liquid, expanding vapour explosions (BLEVEs)

The simulations are part of the space agency’s Simulation Assisted Risk Assessment (SARA) project. SARA is to provide physics-based analyses to assess “failure environments associated with space exploration system failures”. The study’s results will be incorporated into the SARA ascent abort risk modeling effort

Ames states that the contractor’s capabilities must include “first-principles physics models” for cryogenic fuel vaporization, turbulent mixing and the finite-rate combustion chemistry of hydrogen and oxygen with “subsequent blast wave initiation and propagation”

For this Ames is going to purchase the services of Craft-Tech, a company that has already carried out similar work for the agency. It has modelled cryogenic real fluid flow and related “multi-phase phenomena such as cavitation” under two NASA small business innovation research contracts

Previously Craft-Tech has studied technology for NASA’s cancelled Next Generation Launch Technology programme and worked on improving Space Shuttle Main Engine turbopumps and expendable launch vehicles

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