A proposed gas strut system would separate a liquid-fueled second rocket stage from a solid-fueled first stage using an array of pre-charged struts. The strut would be a piston-and-cylinder mechanism containing a compressed gas. Adiabatic expansion of the gas would drive the extension of the strut. The strut is designed to produce a force-versus-time profile, chosen to prevent agitation of the liquid fuel, in which the force would increase from an initial low value to a peak value, then decay toward the end of the stroke.

The strut would include a piston chamber and a storage chamber. The piston chamber would initially contain gas at a low pressure to provide the initial low separation force. The storage chamber would contain gas at a higher pressure. The piston would include a longitudinal metering rod containing an array of small holes, sized to restrict the flow gas between the chambers, that would initially not be exposed to the interior of the piston chamber. During subsequent expansion, the piston motion would open more of the metering holes between the storage and piston chambers, thereby increasing the flow of gas into the piston chamber to produce the desired buildup of force.

This work was done by Brian Floyd of Integrated Concepts Research Corp. for Marshall Space Flight Center. For further information, contact Sammy Nabors, MSFC Commercialization Assistance Lead, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Refer to MFS-32660-1.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the September, 2010 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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