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NASA Undertakes “Big Crush” to Test Shell Design

Posted on: 01/20/2014
Engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, will crush an immense aluminum-lithium rocket fuel tank in late March by sandwiching it between two loading rings that will press down with almost one million pounds of force. Data will be used to generate new shell-buckling design factors to enable lightweight, safe, and sturdy “skins” for future launch vehicles.

The intent for the new test data is to update essential calculations that are typically a significant cost, performance, and safety driver in designing large structures like the main fuel tank of a heavy-lift launch vehicle. Using lighter, high-tech materials in the design and manufacturing process will translate into lighter rockets that can carry more payload.

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