SMiRF Tests Liquid Acquisition in Zero Gravity
The Small Multi-Purpose Research Facility (SMiRF) at NASA Glenn's Creek Road Cryogenics Complex evaluates the performance of thermal protection systems required to provide long-term storage and transfer of cryogenic propellants in space. Several zero gravity fluid management techniques include mass gauging, measuring the amount of fluid; liquid acquisition devices (LADs), capturing fluid that is simply floating around in the tank; and line chill down and transfer between storage tanks, efficiently moving fluid with minimal waste.
Recently, a series of successful LADs tests were conducted using liquid hydrogen at various saturation conditions to verify their ability to acquire liquid while in zero gravity. Testing was done over a range of temperatures as low as -424°F and tank pressures from 20-80 psia (pounds per square inch absolute).
SMiRF provides the ability to simulate space; high altitude and launch pressure conditions; and features a 6 x 9 foot diameter diffusion-pumped high-vacuum chamber with a programmable cold wall capable of simulating the thermal cycle of a lunar day. Facilities like SMIRF develop advanced propulsion concepts and evaluate safer propellants for launch vehicles, spacecraft thrusters and advanced ignition systems for next-generation launch vehicles.
Image Credit: NASA
Bridget R. Caswell (Wyle Information Systems, LLC)