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T0202-S

Suborbital Testing of Liquid Acquisition Devices for Cryogenic Fluid Management

PI: Kevin Supak, Steve Green (Co-I), Southwest Research Institute - San Antonio

The goal of this project is to increase the technology readiness level (TRL) of a tapered channel Liquid Acquisition Device (LAD) design to TRL 5 by characterizing its performance in a relevant environment aboard a suborbital vehicle that can provide multiple minutes of high-quality microgravity. Additionally, this test also provides cross-cutting data for better understanding the capillary forces inherent in separating gas from liquid in Human Health, Life Support, and Habitation (TA06) and Thermal Management Systems (TA14) applications.

Technology Areas (?)
  • TA02 In-Space Propulsion Technologies
Problem Statement

Improvement of cryogenic fluid storage and transfer technology for in-space propulsion systems is required for long-term human explorations beyond low Earth orbit as identified in the NASA Technology Roadmap Technology Area (TA) 02: In-Space Propulsion. Current technology relies on the capillary force within screened channels of a Liquid Acquisition Device (LAD) to deliver vapor-free cryogenic liquid during engine restart and critical transfer processes. However, due to the low temperatures associated with cryogenic fluids, external heating acting on the tank where this fluid is stored will cause vapor bubbles to form within the LAD that are difficult to remove in existing designs. A more efficient design is needed to reliably remove vapor bubbles without costly thrusting maneuvers or active separation systems.

Technology Maturation

A small modification to a commonly used LAD is proposed: a tapered channel. This design passively removes or 'pumps-out' cryogenic vapor bubbles that are internally generated, substantially improving transfer or delivery of cryogenic fluids. The goal of this flight test is to increase the TRL of this tapered channel LAD design to TRL 5 by characterizing its performance in a relevant environment aboard a suborbital vehicle that can provide multiple minutes of high-quality microgravity.

Future Customers

This experiment will provide novel data that will directly benefit NASA in-space propulsion technology by improving and validating tapered LAD designs as well as strengthening the knowledge of fundamental forces that affect gas/liquid behavior in microgravity.

Technology Details

  • Selection Date
    REDDI-F1-17B (Apr 2018)
  • Program Status
    Active
  • Current TRL (?)
    Unknown
    Successful FOP Flights
  • 0 sRLV

Development Team

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