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Composite materials work well in temperatures commonly encountered in all weathers on Earth, but rocket elements swing between temperatures of liquid hydrogen (where polymer components become very brittle) and thousands of degrees of air resistance and combustion radiation (where composites simply burn), and brutal temperature shifts once in space. Never ...


17

Edit: added more information on why composites aren't common yet. Most of a rocket's structure consists of LOX and fuel tanks. Historically, carbon composites were viewed as too flammable to be used safely for tanks. Carbon composites failed standard tests used by e.g. NASA to determine flammability. In 2001, a study was done to re-examine this decision. ...


11

According to tweets from Elon, at least part of the decision is due to their design for dealing with the reentry heat: instead of adding ablators to cool the craft on reentry, Starship is going to actively cool the hot side with liquid methane. Steel is better at coping with this than carbon fiber. Tweet 1: Usable strength/weight of full hard stainless ...


6

Parts of newer launchers have been made out of composites. For example the Vega first stage (P80) uses composites for the casing and some nozzle parts: However, instead of the steel outer structure used for the Ariane boosters, the P80 has a lightweight, filament-wound composite casing. It also incorporates a new, simplified design of igniter with a ...


5

The chance you actually found a meteorite is really tiny. So small actually, that the obligatory xkcd reference is actually really accurate: (obligatory xkcd) Jokes aside though, the comic does reference an actual procedure you might follow: (from self-test check-list) The website this checklist comes from provides a ton of information on what to do to ...


5

The question has been evolving. I've addressed the original: Are there any metals that has a high Armstrong limit? I've never heard of a liquid metal that boils at 20° C or 37° C in a vacuum. Metallic hydrogen might be suggested but that's not a liquid at atmospheric pressure. So I think the answer is pretty much All of them! Things like mercury or ...


4

Composites work fine in space, and for cryogenic fuels. There was some trouble with the X-33's liquid hydrogen tanks which is why people say they "don't work at cold temperatures" but those problems have long been resolved. Making them radiation resistant is a matter of selecting the right resin, and resins that hold up in space are available. Of course, ...


3

Rocket Lab's Electron launch vehicle is (as far as I know) constructed almost completely from carbon composite including the fuel tanks. I hear there have been issues with carbon composites being suitable for holding liquid propellants but if this company is confident enough to produce a vehicle entirely of the stuff then I'm sure they've done their homework....


2

Your question is underspecified, but you might find something like TransHab (or other inflatable spacecraft designs) to fit the bill. There's already one such module attached to the ISS, so the principle appears to be entirely sound and practical. From this older NASA page on TransHab, you can see that the membranes are made from layers of nextel ceramic ...


2

Wernher von Braun always painted their rockets in large black & white blocks or checkers, to enable them to see if the rocket rolled during launch. This continued on to the Saturn series. There were some instances where the tanks under the black gained too much pressure. I don't know if there were any painting scheme changes as a result.


1

The wikipedia page has a engine mass value of 35 kg, but its not references anywhere, so I would take that value with a pinch of salt. Some aspects of an electric pump fed engine are discussed in the thesis below, and may answer some of your questions, but no information has been officially released and available on the public domain. https://www....


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