Evaluating and Addressing Potential Hazards of Fuel Tanks Surviving Atmospheric Reentry
- Kelley, Robert L.
- January 2011.
- Physical Description:
- 1 electronic document
- Additional Creators:
- Johnson, Nicholas L.
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- In order to ensure reentering spacecraft do not pose an undue risk to the Earth's population it is important to design satellites and rocket bodies with end of life considerations in mind. In addition to considering the possible consequences of deorbiting a vehicle, consideration must also be given to the possible risks associated with a vehicle failing to become operational or reach its intended orbit. Based on recovered space debris and numerous reentry survivability analyses, fuel tanks are of particular concern in both of these considerations. Most spacecraft utilize some type of fuel tank as part of their propulsion system. These fuel tanks are most often constructed using stainless steel or titanium and are filled with potentially hazardous substances such as hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide. For a vehicle which has reached its scheduled end of mission the contents of the tanks are typically depleted. In this scenario the use of stainless steel and titanium results in the tanks posing a risk to people and property do to the high melting point and large heat of ablation of these materials leading to likely survival of the tank during reentry. If a large portion of the fuel is not depleted prior to reentry, there is the added risk of hazardous substance being released when the tank impact the ground. This paper presents a discussion of proactive methods which have been utilized by NASA satellite projects to address the risks associated with fuel tanks reentering the atmosphere. In particular it will address the design of a demiseable fuel tank as well as the evaluation of off the shelf designs which are selected to burst during reentry.
- Other Subject(s):
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 20110008637.
5th IAASS Conference "A Safer Space for a Safer World"; 17-19 Oct. 2011; Versailles; France.
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