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 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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