An engineer and technician at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Lewis Research Center install the instrumentation on spherical fuel tanks for an investigation of the behavior of liquids in microgravity. Lewis researchers were undertaking a broad effort to study the heat transfer properties of high energy propellants such as liquid hydrogen in microgravity. In the center’s 2.2-Second Drop Tower they investigated the wetting characteristics of liquid and the liquid-vapor configurations, and predicted the equilibrium state in microgravity conditions.
Lewis was also conducting a series microgravity investigations which launched 9-inch diameter spherical dewars, seen here, on an Aerobee sounding rocket. A camera inside the rocket filmed the liquid hydrogen’s behavior during its 4 to 7 minutes of freefall. The researchers concluded, however, that they needed to extend the weightlessness period to obtain better results. So they designed an experiment to be launched on an Atlas missile that would provide 21 minutes of weightlessness. The experiment was flight qualified at Lewis.
The 36-percent full liquid hydrogen stainless steel dewar was launched on the Atlas on February 25, 1964. The instrumentation measured temperature, pressure, vacuum, and liquid level. Temperature instrumentation indicated wall drying during the freefall. The resultant pressure-rise characteristics were similar to those used for the normal-gravity test.