ZERO-G and UF Collaborate to Advance Deep-Space Missions

“G-FORCE ONE is the perfect test bed for space-bound technology and is one of the last steps before sending experiments into orbit,” said Terese Brewster, CEO of ZERO-G. “The data collected from these universities and future groups who do research with us is vital for the future of space exploration.”

The below experiment was conducted by the UF group during the four research flights conducted between March 21-24, 2017:

Rocket Propellant Thermal Management System for Deep-Space Missions, University of Florida

Long-duration space travel to Mars and beyond will utilize primarily liquid oxygen and hydrogen – cryogens – for rocket propellant. Before these cryogens can be injected into the engine as liquids, transfer lines must be cooled to temperatures below 20 Kelvin for liquid hydrogen to 80 Kelvin for liquid oxygen, approximately minus 425 to minus 315 degrees Fahrenheit. This cooling (chilldown) process is typically done by the initial flow of liquid cryogens, which are then vented outside the spacecraft as vapor. For long-distance space missions, the transfer line “chilldown” must be accomplished with minimal consumption of cryogen to conserve that material for propellant use.

A team of nine undergraduate and four graduate students led by Professor Jacob Chung from the University of Florida Cryogenic Research Laboratory developed a special coating for the inside of the propellant  transfer pipe to enable a faster cooling process and minimize cryogen loss. The team’s system proved viable in extreme temperature changes and maintained integrity in microgravity and high G-forces during the research flight with ZERO-G. Findings show that coating a transfer pipe reduced chilldown time and fuel consumption by as much as 50-70%. The team will continue its research on perfecting the technology and revolutionizing space travel.

List of team members and Consultants

Lead : Dr. Jacob Chung

Members :

  1. Undergraduate Students – Kenton Prescott, Oscar Deng, Joe Printy, Nick Kelton, Logan Chavours, Gaelyn Carfield, Mike Lakin, Nathan Jerome, and David Yaegers.
  2. Graduate Students – Jun Dong, Chase Camarotti, Hao Wang and Weiqi Shen.

Consultants : Dr. Sam Darr (Aerospace Corporation) and Dr. Jason Hartwig (NASA Glenn Research Center).