Dynetics has successfully completed the largest flight-weight cryogenic tank built at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) since the Apollo Saturn era. The tank, fabricated for the Space Launch System (SLS) Advanced Booster Engineering Demonstration and/or Risk Reduction (ABEDRR) contract, is an 18-foot diameter welded aluminum structure weighing only 10,000 pounds and composed of some of the thickest material ever welded on MSFC's friction stir weld tools.
Using the vertical weld tool at NASA's MSFC, Dynetics friction stir-welded single 10-foot by 58-foot panels into barrels and then used the robotic weld tool (RWT) to weld two dome-to-y-ring assemblies. Finally, Dynetics jointly worked with MSFC on its vertical assembly tool (VAT) to form a complete tank by welding the domes to the barrel.
The ABEDRR contract was awarded by NASA in the fall of 2012. Dynetics, the prime contractor, partnered with Aerojet Rocketdyne to perform a wide-ranging set of risk reduction activities and system-level demonstrations that support NASA's goal of enabling competition on an affordable booster that meets the evolved capabilities of the SLS.
Dynetics designed and fabricated the full-scale cryogenic tank that it will test to verify the structural design. Kim Doering, manager of Dynetics Space Division, said, "Completion of this cryogenic tank demonstrates Dynetics' affordable structures concept is producible. It took the team just one week to roll form and weld each of the tank barrels, which is a small fraction of the time required to construct a typical orthogrid barrel." The tank will be shipped to the Dynetics Mississippi Test Site later this year for pressure and thermal testing.
Under the ABEDRR contract, in addition to Dynetics' structures accomplishments, Aerojet Rocketdyne has performed full-scale demonstrations to reduce risks for LOX/hydrocarbon rocket engine development. "This further demonstrates that Dynetics and Aerojet Rocketdyne can offer affordable options to meet NASA's future exploration needs," said David King, Dynetics president.