Reading about NASA testing the SLS (Space Launch System) booster and they are chilling it to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This confused me because they are going to fill it with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen which are extremely cold (LOX is 90K, hydrogen is 20K). So I'm thinking maybe the booster has insulated walls. And since one of the tanks is above the other, there must be a pipe to carry the the fluid to engine. So where is this pipe located? And how big is it? And is it insulated as well?

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    $\begingroup$ Can you add a link/quote of where you found this? $\endgroup$ – Nathan Tuggy Oct 14 '16 at 23:35
  • $\begingroup$ Some rockets are insulated, see e.g. space.stackexchange.com/questions/5967/… $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Oct 15 '16 at 7:30
  • $\begingroup$ Note that to people in the field, "booster" is a specific term with a rather specific meaning. See for example the Wikipedia article on booster (rocketry). $\endgroup$ – user Oct 15 '16 at 17:38
  • $\begingroup$ Hobbes - Vunderbar! That's exactly what I wanted to know. Now if I can just find out what they are doing for the SLS. Or maybe they don't know yet. $\endgroup$ – Chuck Pergiel Oct 17 '16 at 19:25

This number and description probably comes from the Wikipedia Space Launch System article and it refers to the two solid fuel boosters attached to the sides of the main core.

Solid fuel boosters do not use cryogenic (very cold) fuel, using solid fuel instead. And so, the temperature testing required is only that which covers the ambient temperature of the launch site.

For SLS, cryogenic fuel is used for the core and upper stage.

  • $\begingroup$ Article about the test herelink. Reading it again I realized that, yes they are testing the solid fuel boosters. It make sense, they are in Utah, and that's where the shuttle's solid state boosters came from. So it's kind of a ridiculous test except for the $100 million riding on any one launch. $\endgroup$ – Chuck Pergiel Oct 16 '16 at 2:49
  • $\begingroup$ My question still stands though. Are the tanks for liquid fuel rockets that use cryogenic fluids insulated? Is so, with what? Or do they just count on the huge mass of fuel staying cool until they launch. And how do they get the fuel from the upper tank to the engines? I suspect a pipe down the center of the lower tank. Is that pipe insulated? Now I'm really curious as to what's going in there. $\endgroup$ – Chuck Pergiel Oct 16 '16 at 2:55
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    $\begingroup$ They are testing for the kind of failure that destroyed Challenger. Not ridiculous at all. $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Oct 16 '16 at 8:27
  • $\begingroup$ to elaborate: Challenger was launched on a cold day (outside the normal specifications for the boosters). Because of the cold, the seals between the boosters segments didn't seal properly, allowing hot gases to escape. This led to structural failure of an attachment point of the SRB. $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Oct 17 '16 at 8:09

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