As part of the continued thermal support for the Space Launch System (SLS) program, MSFC is constantly developing or modifying software tools to aid in analytical efforts to solve thermal issues and problems posed by the project. In some cases, existing software used by previous heritage programs provides an excellent template for the engineer to develop a tool perfectly suited for the current task without starting from scratch.

SURFICE, a Windows-based program developed by Lockheed Martin, was used during the space shuttle program as a tool for engineers to analytically predict potential ice and frost growth during shuttle launches. The existing SURFICE code does not allow for changes to materials or analytical runtime, or for use on geometries different from the STS external tank (ET).

The proposed software takes the engineering algorithms of SURFICE and adds a graphical user interface for easy changes to be made. These include inputs to the ambient weather, thickness of insulation or thermal protection system (TPS), and how the software analyzes weather (several weeks/months/years or 10-hour pre-launch timeline). The code has been modified to handle the SLS geometries, and is Windows 7/8 and Mac OS compatible.

This work was done by Mark Wall of Jacobs Technology for Marshall Space Flight Center. For more information, contact Ronald C. Darty, Licensing Executive in the MSFC Technology Transfer Office, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Refer to MFS-33296-1


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This article first appeared in the August, 2018 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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