Mechanical Engineering Faculty Research


Prediction of the Permeation Performance of a Candidate Space Docking Seal

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Publication Date

Spring 3-2014


The preservation of air in manned spacecraft is the utmost priority in space seal research and development. Novel elastomeric space seals were developed by NASA for future spacecraft. Because a comprehensive prediction methodology was lacking in previous seal research, the design process for these elastomeric space seals had relied heavily on prior knowledge and experimental studies. Recent developments in a compressible permeation method for space seals afforded the ability to predict leak rates for realistic silicone elastomeric space seals. The objective of the research presented herein was to provide a measure of computational validation, comparing experimental referents with corresponding computational predictions. Experimental measurements of a subscale space seal constructed with elastomer compound S0383-70 were performed at two operating temperatures (+73 and +122 °F) and two levels of closure (40 and 100%). The computational technique included a finite difference technique using a curvilinear, body-fitted grid and pseudo-time-stepping to reach steady state. The leak rate performance of the seal was then calculated from a mass flux summation at domain boundaries. The computational analysis showed sound correlation with the experimental measurements at 40% closure because the predicted leak rate values were within the bounds of the experimental uncertainty. At 100% closure, the predicted leak rates were within 16% of the corresponding experimental observations. Differences were attributed to inaccuracies of the domain and the fidelity of the model. Read More:

Publication Title

Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets





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