X-38 Nose Skirt Panels - Results of Qualification Testing 2001-01-2343
The X-38 vehicle will be used to demonstrate the future technology on durable TPS for the CRV. Astrium has produced two large CMC Nose Skirt side panels for the current X-38 configuration.
The design of the 3 dimensional curved and large side panels comprises a light-weight, stringer stiffened concept which compensates the thermal expansion by a system of flexible metallic stand-offs. An optimum in flexibility and stiffness to fulfil all requirements had to be found: strong and stiff enough to carry the thermo-mechanical loads, but flexible enough to realise a fastening concept which does not fail due to thermal expansion.
The fastening concept has been tested on development test level. Some thermal and mechanical tests on sub-structure level confirmed the design and analysis work of the complete TPS concept. The thermal and vibration qualification tests have been carried out successfully with a complete nose assembly qualification model, comprising the nose tip cold structure, the CMC nose cap, the two large nose skirt side panels and the small CMC chin panel (see fig.1). The vibration tests on a single side panel and the complete nose assembly have been successfully performed too.
The flight hardware, a complete set of pre-assembled Nose Assembly has been delivered already to NASA for Integration on the X-38 V201.