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Simulating Heat Load of a Cryogenic Fuel Tank of a Spent Launcher Orbiter to Evaluate Explosive Rupture


  • Aircraft and Rocket Engineering Department of the Omsk State Technical University, Omsk, Russian Federation


Background/Objectives: The research deals with an engineering practice for evaluating explosive rupture of a cryogenic fuel tank of a spent orbital launcher stage after turning off a liquid propellant propulsion engine on a circular orbit in an altitude range of 200 to 1,000 km. Methods: It is assumed that non-used liquid cryogenic fuel component residue in the fuel tank evaporates as a result of such fuel tank structure affected by outer space factors; at the same time vapor pressure of this fuel component raises to the values that exceed structural integrity of the fuel tank. The outer space factors imply heat effect on the spent stage when it is in orbital movement (direct solar radiation, solar radiation that is reflected from the Earth, Earth self-radiation and aerodynamic heat flow). Findings: The engineering practice was developed to evaluate explosive rupture of a cryogenic fuel tank of a spent launcher orbiter on a circular orbit in an altitude range of 200 to 1,000 km. According to our calculations, average absorbed specific heat flow rates at the highest heat load (the fuel tank surface is exposed to cumulative direct solar radiation, re-reflected solar radiation, the Earth self-radiation and aerodynamic heat flow on the whole orbit) and the lowest heat load (the fuel tank surface of the spent stage is in the Earth shadow) were determined. The availability of liquid oxygen residues in the fuel tank of the Zenith launcher in the amount up to 3% of the initial amount filled does not facilitate the explosion. Application/Improvements: The proposed procedure can be refined with regard to fuel strength model and heat exchange processes.


Circular Orbit, Explosive Rupture, Fuel Residues, Heat Load, Launcher, Spent Stage.

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