Humankind’s fascination with space helped put a man on the moon and satellites into orbit. It’s the same wonderment that currently captures the imagination of Boeing engineers, who are designing and building innovative technologies to enable new explorations into the Final Frontier.
Working under contract with NASA’s Space Technology Game Changing Development Program, Boeing has designed and built two composite liquid-hydrogen fuel tanks for heavy-lift launch vehicles and other future air and space missions.
Final assembly just wrapped up on the larger (5.5-meter) tank at the Boeing Developmental Center in Tukwila, Wash. Next week, the tank will be loaded onto the NASA Super Guppy, a large, wide-bodied cargo aircraft, and transported to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., for testing. This forthcoming test follows Boeing and NASA successfully testing a 2.4-meter composite tank at Marshall last year. These tanks promise a 30 percent weight reduction and 25 percent cost savings over the state of the art metallic tanks used today.
Dan Rivera, the cryotank program manager within Boeing Research & Technology, the company’s advanced R&D organization, said Boeing and NASA’s work has truly game-changing potential for the future of space exploration. The teams’ innovation provides both weight and cost savings, a combination that’s hard to find, Rivera said.