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NASA engineers buckled an aluminum-lithium cylinder similar in size to fuel tanks for the largest rockets ever built.
Test Article for Shell Buckling Knockdown Factor Project

NASA engineers buckled an aluminum-lithium cylinder similar in size to fuel tanks for the largest rockets ever built. A series of test were conducted inside the structural test area at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The black-and-white polka dots on the tank allowed 20 high-speed cameras to record minute changes as almost a million pounds of force pressed down upon the tank. Dr. Mark Hilburger, a senior research engineer in the Structural Mechanics and Concepts Branch at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., conducted the test for the NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC). The NESC funded the tests as part of the Shell Buckling Knockdown Factor Project, which is developing a new set of engineering standards for launch vehicles with the potential to reduce vehicle weight by 20 percent.

Image credit: NASA/MSFC/Fred Deaton

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Page Last Updated: December 17th, 2013
Page Editor: Brooke Boen