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RSC Energia: life tests on the SMP module continue

July 19, 2018

By order of RSC Energia, the prime research organization federal state unitary enterprise TsNIIMash is conducting tests on pressurized and unpressurized hulls of the Science and Power Module (SPM).

The phase of static tests on the pressurized hull of the module and the truss structure of the unpressurized hull, which confirmed compliance with their strength requirements, has been successfully completed. Now, the life tests need to verify the compliance of the SPM hulls with the requirements of the specifications according to which their life in orbit shall be 15 years.

When in orbit, the module structure is subjected to loads occurring during dockings, orbit corrections and crew activities. Life tests are conducted on the basis of analysis of the whole spectrum of these loads. The spots carrying the highest loads are the solar panels deployment mechanism, the docking assembly attachment zone, and the so called passive base point – the bracket on the hull that cosmonauts latch on to during space walks. These are the spots that are loaded during tests in heavy-duty mode in as many cycles as they would have been subjected to in orbit over a period of 15 years taking safety factors into account. At present the pressurized hull has already been loaded with three years’ worth of cycles, the unpressurized hull life tests are starting.

Simulated inside the pressurized hull during the tests is overpressure – just like in orbit. For this purpose it is filled with water, and the upper portion is pumped with air pressurized to one atmosphere. If through-the-wall cracks appear in the hull, the pressure will drop, but the developers are certain that it won’t come to that.

- Waffle-grid structure of the hull walls, having the 2.5 mm thick web and 24 mm high waffle provides strength that is equivalent to 9 mm thick solid material, while being almost 3 times lighter, - said Alexei Kremlev, engineer of the Corporation advanced products structural strength department.

Altogether, three SPM hulls have been built: two mockups for static, life, vibration strength, modal tests and for trying out crew actions in the neutral buoyancy lab, as well as a hull for flight tests.
The completion of life tests is expected in February 2019, after which the SPM pressurized compartment will go the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center where it will be used for training.

RSC Energia is the leader in the rocket and space industry, and the prime contractor for manned space systems. The Corporation conducts work on the development of unmanned space and rocket systems (launch vehicles and orbital transfer vehicles), and high-technology systems for various non-space applications.

ROSCOSMOS is a State Corporation established in August of 2015 in order to conduct a comprehensive reform of the rocket and space industry in Russia+. State Corporation Roscosmos assures implementation of the Government policies in the field of space activities and provides for them a legal and regulatory framework, as well as places orders for the development, production and delivery of space hardware and space infrastructure facilities. The functions of the State Corporation also include development of international cooperation in space, and creating conditions for using results of space activities in social and economic development of Russia.

 

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