A document discusses multifunctional tanks as means to integrate additional structural and functional efficiencies into designs of spacecraft. Whereas spacecraft tanks are traditionally designed primarily to store fluids and only secondarily to provide other benefits, multifunctional tanks are designed to simultaneously provide multiple primary benefits. In addition to one or more chamber(s) for storage of fluids, a multifunctional tank could provide any or all of the following:

  • Passageways for transferring the fluids;
  • Part or all of the primary structure of a spacecraft;
  • All or part of an enclosure;
  • Mechanical interfaces to components, subsystems, and/or systems;
  • Paths and surfaces for transferring heat;
  • Shielding against space radiation;
  • Shielding against electromagnetic interference;
  • Electrically conductive paths and surfaces; and
  • Shades and baffles to protect against sunlight and/or other undesired light.

Many different multifunctional-tank designs are conceivable. The design of a particular tank can be tailored to the requirements for the spacecraft in which the tank is to be installed. For example, the walls of the tank can be flat or curved or have more complicated shapes, and the tank can include an internal structure for strengthening the tank and/or other uses.

This work was done by David H. Collins, Joseph C. Lewis, and Paul D. MacNeal of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For further information, access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Mechanics category. NPO-41407

This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
Multifunctional Tanks for Spacecraft

(reference NPO-41407) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

Don't have an account? Sign up here.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the September, 2006 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

Read more articles from the archives here.