A Launch Vehicle Adapter (LVA) was developed that provides a structural interface between a Commercial Crew Vehicle (CCV) Crew Module/Service Module Spacecraft (CM/SM) and an expendable launch vehicle. It also provides a means to control the exhaust plume from a pusher type launch abort system integrated into the Service Module.

An open structural truss-type LVA carries launch loads below a solid, cylindrical shell. The construction of the truss and the shell structure may be metallic, composite, or any combination thereof. The short truss structure allows venting of the LAS plumes either directly out of the LVA, or with little rebound.

It may also be necessary to install a blast protective shield inside the LVA to further protect the forward end of the launch vehicle upper stage. This blast cover redirects any errant flow of the exhaust plume laterally away from the launch vehicle’s forward end. The shield may also be covered with an ablative insulation or blast panels as required. These panels, while not structural, serve the purpose of keeping ascent pressure, dust, and debris out of the LVA. In the case of an emergency abort, these panels may be passively or actively ejected from the LVA in order to keep the majority of the LAS (Launch Abort System) exhaust plume away from the launch vehicle forward end. Additionally, with the panels blown out, the pressure build-up from the plumes will vent to the exterior of the LVA, reducing the stress on the launch vehicle’s avionics and forward tank dome.

This work was done by Robert Vandervort of The Boeing Company for Johnson Space Center. NASA is seeking partners to further develop this technology through joint cooperative research and development. For more information about this technology and to explore opportunities, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. MSC-25101-1

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This article first appeared in the October, 2017 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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