I am currently aware of the following types of propellant tank technology:

  • Steel fuselage, used in the V-2/A-4 & other rockets of its era (essentially a plane body)
  • Integral steel tanks, first used by the Soviet R-2, also used on the Aerobees (?) (tank wall is load-bearing--there is no separate frame/skin encapsulating the tank).
  • Integral aluminum tanks, first used by the Viking sounding rockets and then many rockets after that.
  • Steel balloon tanks, first used by Atlas, then by the Centaur stage (must be pressurized to maintain structural integrity)
  • Common-bulkhead aluminum tanks, first used on the S-II stage (?)
  • Integral titanium tanks, ??? (don't know when they were used).
  • Carbon composite tanks, first attempted on Venture Star (?) but technology not matured until ???
  • Stainless steel, planned for use by SpaceX's Starship (how does this differ from 1940-50s technology?)

Page 16, numbered 4, of this NASA document has proved helpful, but its time range is quite limited to the active US rockets of its era.

Thank you!

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ IMHO you should break this up into several questions. A book could be written to answer what you have asked here. $\endgroup$ Jan 16, 2020 at 21:14
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, I'll edit the question to contain only that one and stash the rest of my questions perhaps for another day. $\endgroup$ Jan 16, 2020 at 21:31
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble looks better? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jan 16, 2020 at 22:18
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    $\begingroup$ @neph Thanks for the edits! Just fyi the previous questions are still viewable in the edit history here, Stack Exchange keeps everything. You can see them by clicking "edited" (to the left of your user name and icon) and most other users can as well. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jan 16, 2020 at 22:21
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    $\begingroup$ Your title is now 'Fill in the gaps?', and the text is a list of items. I consider that unclear and too broad. $\endgroup$
    – user10509
    Jan 17, 2020 at 15:28


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