3203. Evolved Composite Structures on the Atlas V Launch Vehicle


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Steve Smith: 3203. Evolved Composite Structures on the Atlas V Launch Vehicle. 2002.



As the Atlas family of launch vehicles evolves to provide increased lift capability at reduced costs, the Atlas V series incorporates several composite structural elements. These lightweight composite elements are based on heritage designs and manufacturing capabilities demonstrated by key suppliers. By evolving these designs and manufacturing capabilities, the Atlas V is poised to provide a low-risk, evolutionary approach in response to our customers’ needs. The Common Core Booster? (CCB) that flies on all Atlas V vehicles uses a composite heat shield to protect the aft compartment from the plume of the flight-proven RD-180 engine. The Atlas V 400 series vehicle uses a composite conical interstage adapter to transition from the forward end of the 3.81-m (12.5-ft) diameter booster to the 3.05-m (10-ft) diameter cylindrical adapter and common Centaur upper stage. To accommodate larger-diameter payloads, the Atlas V 500 series and heavy lift vehicle (HLV) incorporate several additional composite elements. A composite 3.81-m diameter cylindrical interstage adapter, a composite conical boattail to transition from the 3.81-m core diameter to the payload fairing diameter, and a composite 5.4-m (17.8-ft) diameter payload fairing available in 20.7-m (68-ft), 23.5-m (77-ft), and 26.5- m (87-ft) lengths. In addition, some of the Atlas V 500 and HLV series vehicles will use optional composite structures, such as the truss adapters, dual-payload carrier, and, for HLV, liquid rocket booster nose cones. These composite structural elements enable the Atlas V to provide increased lift capability at reduced costs. A low-risk approach is used in developing the Atlas V vehicles, including a comprehensive test program to qualify these structures.


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