Tuesday, March 17, 2009

LO2 & LCH4 Storage on the Lunar Surface

Barsi, Moder & Kassemi, NASA Glenn, Cleveland, OH
AIAA Joint Propulsion Conference

Currently NASA is developing technologies to enable human exploration of the lunar surface for durations of up to 210 days. While trade studies are still underway, a cryogenic ascent stage using liquid oxygen (LO2) and liquid methane (LCH4) is being considered for the Altair lunar lander. For a representative Altair cryogenic ascent stage, we present a detailed storage analysis of the LO2 and LCH4 propellant tanks on the lunar surface for durations of up to 210 days. Both the LO2 and LCH4 propellant tanks are assumed to be pressurized with gaseous helium at launch. A two-phase lumped-vapor computational fluid dynamics model has been developed to account for the presense of a non-condensable gas in the ullage. The CFD model is used to simulate the initial pressure response of the propellant tanks while they are subjected to representative heat leak rates on the lunar surface. Once a near stationary state is achieved within the liquid phase, a multi-zone model is used to extrapolate the solution farther in time. For fixed propellant mass and tank size, the long-term pressure response for different helium mass fractions in both the LO2 and LCH4 tanks is examined.

Download the (pdf) Study HERE.

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