Case Study: NASA/Boeing composite launch vehicle fuel tank scores firsts

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Subscale 5.5-m diameter cryogenic tank demonstrator with innovative fluted-core skirt is formed via robotic AFP and cured out of the autoclave.

For more than 50 years, heavy metal cryogenic tanks have carried the liquid hydrogen (LH2) and oxygen necessary to launch vehicles into space. But in a joint effort, NASA and The Boeing Co. (Chicago, IL, US) have designed, fabricated and tested a composite cryotank that, if scaled up to current space launch system dimensions, would weigh 30% less and cost 25% less than the best aluminum-lithium cryotanks used today, and could warrant transport of as much as 1,400 kg of additional payload to low-Earth orbit and beyond.

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