Date of Award

12-2016

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering

Department

Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Dr. Sathya Gangadharan

First Committee Member

Dr. Sirish Namilae

Second Committee Member

Dr. Laksh Narayanaswami

Abstract

The concept of developing a new technology for on-orbit storage and refueling system has been a great interest among scientists for many decades. This study is about Centaur-based on-orbit propellant storage and transfer. This system takes the advantage of rotational settling to a simple fluid management (FM) system. Specifically, enabling settled fluid transfer and settled pressure control between two tanks. This thesis work focuses on configuration and validation of static and dynamic stability, mass gauging and CFD analysis of the rotational propellant transfer method in space. The application of this technology in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and Geo-Synchronous Orbit (GEO) would enable further extending the mission capabilities of modern day Commercial Launch Vehicles (CLV’S). Bulk Storage and handling of propellant liquids in space involves considerable technical challenge due to high vacuum and potential zero gravity environment. In order to raise the technology readiness level of this system, experimental study was conducted on (a) system dynamics, (b) mass gauging, (c) CFD analysis. The stability dynamics study showed the system to be stable about the minor axis with high rotational velocity. The mass gauging system was validated using experimental modal analysis. CFD analysis was used to analysis the fluid behavior during the transfer. These results provide a critical insight into the behavior and physical tendencies of the on-orbit refueling system.

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