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Bursting with Pride over a Better Booster

Dynetics ABEDRR tank flooding just after the moment of burst during a planned hydrostatic proof and burst test recently in Iuka, Miss.

Dynetics ABEDRR tank flooding just after the moment of burst during a planned hydrostatic proof and burst test recently in Iuka, Miss.

Dynetics has successfully performed a proof and burst test of the Space Launch System (SLS) Advanced Booster Engineering Demonstration and/or Risk Reduction (ABEDRR) tank, proving the structural integrity of the concept.

The work is part of a contract NASA awarded Dynetics in the fall of 2012 and is being performed in partnership with Aerojet Rocketdyne to reduce risks for advanced boosters that could help meet SLS’s future capability needs.

The design and fabrication of the full-scale cryogenic tank was completed in late 2014. The tank is the largest flight-weight cryogenic tank built at Marshall Space Flight Center since the Apollo Saturn era. It is an 18-foot-diameter, friction stir welded aluminum structure weighing 10,000 pounds and composed of some of the thickest roll-formed material ever welded on Marshall’s friction stir weld tools.

Following assembly, the team transported the tank to Dynetics’ test facility in Iuka, Mississippi, to prove out the design and fabrication methods. The team started with a hydrostatic proof test (with water), followed by a proof test using cryogenic fluid, and finished with another hydrostatic proof and a planned burst test.

“We’re very pleased with the results of all of the tests,” said Andy Crocker, Dynetics SLS program manager. “All of the proof tests met our objectives, with the tank holding up well throughout. Then the burst, as exciting as that was, occurred at a pressure well above some conservative estimates and right about where we had predicted.”

The tank testing is part of 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, Crocker said. 

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