Sierra Lobo’s (SLI) Technology Development and Engineering Center (TDEC) was awarded the Outstanding Supplier Award for supporting Northrop Grumman in developing propellant test and ground support infrastructure for their OmegA launch vehicle. OmegA is in development by Northrop Grumman for the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) program. The NSSL is a program of the United States Space Force intended to assure access to space for United States Department of Defense and other United States Government payloads.
SLI TDEC provided an engineering service to help prepare NASA Plum Brook Station’s In-Space Propulsion Facility (ISP) for a test of Northrop Grumman’s OmegA upper stage. SLI assessed ISP’s propellant (liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen) and gas systems to verify if the existing systems could deliver the required conditions for the test campaign timelines. Overall transient and steady state flow and thermal analyses from heritage storage through the upper stage were performed. SLI generated new designs (updated piping and instrumentation diagrams and layouts, developed drawings, performed component selection, and administered procurements) to couple new hardware to heritage storage systems and flight hardware. Formal flexibility, supports, and flange analyses were performed where required per ASME B31.3. Flight interfaces were analyzed to assure stresses were within tolerance. An extensive single fault tolerant gaseous helium pressurant and purge panel with over 200 components was designed, analyzed, and fabricated by SLI TDEC to mimic flight ground support equipment (GSE). Various cryogenic heat exchangers and pressure building circuits were also designed, procured, and integrated into ISP. All systems fabricated and installed were required to meet the stringent cleanliness and purity requirements necessary for the upper stage flight hardware. SLI also supported overall test planning, operations concepts for “test as you fly,” logistics, and hazards assessment.
Concurrently, another team at SLI TDEC under direct design-build contract with Northrop Grumman was developing the propellant flow skid and gas purge panels to be integrated onto the Mobile Launcher (ML) for the for Kennedy Space Center LC-39B. Similar development work, as described for ISP, was performed for the Cape, and includes propellant Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) and Propellant ConOps development. Both the Plum Brook system and the Cape GSE were designed with similarities to provide risk reduction to “test as you fly” under this aggressive competitive schedule. The propellant infrastructure for the ML is expected to be delivered in the third quarter 2020. Images on this page include the current buildup of the Mobile Launcher and artist conception of OmegA on the launch pad (Credit Northrop Grumman), as well as the award given to SLI TDEC Director of Technology and Technical Services, Tony Skaff.