RE: Cosmos launcher and accerlerations

John C. Broman, Jr. (
Sat, 23 Nov 1996 16:31:11 -0500

>>I just read the article in the latest Spaceflight issue about the Cosmos
>Launcher.  I was surprised that the upper(and first stage) uses a 'thin fuel
>tank' construction which means that the wall of the rocket makes part of the
>fuel and oxidiser tank.  This makes the rocket much lighter.  I wonder if
>this technology is used in other rockets as well.

Sure is...the classis Atlas and it's upperstage Centaur are both
structurally supported by their tanks.  After final weld and inspection,
they are pressurized (with N2, I believe) and stay pressurized at all times.
When pressurized, they are very strong longitudinally.  For example, just
try standing on an *unopened* can of beer.  But open the can, and slightly
dent the size, and it collapses.

This work OK for a rocket, since it is in use for such a short time that the
probability of debris inpact in flight is significantly outweighed bu the
benefits of higher payload capability.

I learned this when I used to work for General Dynamics (who made the
Atlas/Centaur) back in the 80's.
John C. Broman, Jr.
X-34 Lead Avionics Engineer
Orbital Sciences Corporation (home) (work)