How to use glue to make a lighter spacecraft
London: An aerospace pioneer has proposed that in order to develop a lighter spacecraft, engineers would need to glue the fuel tanks to the inside of the craft.
Rocket-driven spacecraft normally use strong, heavy-metal mountings to hold their fuel tanks in place within the fuselage.
But, according to a report in New Scientist, there may be a better way.
Rutan, the aerospace pioneer whose firm Scaled Composites is designing civilian suborbital spacecraft for Virgin Galactic, is using an alternative technique to secure the fuel tanks in order to keep the weight of the space plane down.
He said that the use of heavy mountings could be avoided completely by careful design of the tank and fuselage.
His idea, described in a US patent granted last month, is to glue the fuel tanks to the inside of the craft.
Rutan’s tanks have a cylindrical composite-coated midsection that fits snugly inside the spacecraft and is bonded to the inner surface of the fuselage with a super strong industrial adhesive.
A secure fit is crucial as the tanks are connected to the combustion chamber where fuel is burned, and any movement could risk a dangerous leak.
It is thought that Rutan will use glued-in tanks in the successor to his SpaceShipOne rocket, which in 2004 won the USD million Ansari X prize for the first privately funded craft to reach 100 kilometers altitude on two flights.
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