It's not a new home brewing system, the world's largest holiday ornament or even an ambitious Death Star model. This spherical propellant tank is an important component of testing for the Altair lunar lander, an integral part of NASA's Constellation Program. This 4-foot diameter propellant tank lives at NASA's Glenn Research Center's Small Multipurpose Research Facility (SMiRF). It will be covered in 60 layers of high performance insulation, filled with liquid methane and extensively tested in a simulated lunar thermal environment within the SMiRF vacuum chamber. Determining how liquid methane would react to being stored on the moon could dramatically influence lunar travel; this method holds the potential to be less expensive, higher performing and safer than current rocket propellants.
Photographer: Helmut Bamberger (Jacobs Technology, Inc)
Page Last Updated: July 28th, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator