LOCKHEED MARTIN CORPORATION
NASA is exploring advanced composite materials and processes to reduce the overall cost and weight of liquid hydrogen (LH2) cryotanks. Composites are materials that are combinations of two or more organic or inorganic components. One material serves as a "matrix," which is the material that holds everything together, while the other material serves as reinforcement, in the form of fibers embedded in the matrix. A cryotank is a container that can store very cold liquids, in this case liquid hydrogen. The ultimate goal of this project is to provide new and innovative cryotank technologies that enable human space exploration to destinations beyond low earth orbit such as the moon, near-earth asteroids, and Mars. The focus of this initial 1-year effort is to research and develop the composite cryotank technologies required for a heavy lift launch vehicle.
The scope of this effort includes (1) equivalency testing, (2) designing a 10-meter composite cryotank, and (3) developing a Phase 2 plan for the detailed design and manufacturing of ½-scale composite cryotank test article.
1) Perform equivalency testing to otain material property data for out-of-autoclave materials and processes at cryogenic (very low) temperatures, approximately -423 degrees Fahrenheit. Out-of-autoclave materials shall be defined as composite materials that can be fully compacted and cured without an autoclave. Quantify permeability (Leak rate) of liquid Hydrogen through out-of-autoclave material systems and compare to previous studies. Determine the suitability of out-of-autoclave materials and processes for use in composite cryotanks.
2) Design a 10-meter composite cryotank based on a Government provided Aluminum Lithium (Al-Li) design to determine accurate cost and weight savings for composite cryotanks when realistic loading is applied and system level design details and interfaces are included. Target goals include a 20-25% Cost savings and a 25-30% weight savings. Evaluate technical readiness level (TRL), manufacturing readiness level (MRL), and risk associated with fabricating large composite cryotanks.
3) Develop a Phase 2 Plan to provide multiple (two or more) cost, design, and manufacturing options for achieving the ultimate Phase 2 objective of testing ½-scale composite cryotanks in FY12. Provide cost for conceptual design, manufacturing, and flight architectures for a potential opportunity within the new Technology Demonstration Program in FY 13.