On-Orbit Cryogenic Propellant Storage Optimization

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science, Mechanical and Materials Engineering

First Advisor

Corinne Lengsfeld


Cryogenic propellant storage, Spaceflight, Thermal control


The optimization of an on-orbit Cryogenic Propellant Storage (CPS) system enables human exploration missions by reducing launch vehicle mass to orbit requirements and providing an extensible approach for human spaceflight missions to near-Earth asteroids, the moon, and Mars. The optimal CPS sun-shield design and attitude control approach documented herein minimizes LH2 boiloff to near zero boiloff in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) using only passive thermal control techniques, eliminating the need for developing complex and costly active thermal control systems. The optimal CPS system design leverages the current human spaceflight infrastructure resulting in a new mission concept that achieves lower tank temperatures, leading to boiloff rates more than six times better than the best published results. The complexities and interdependencies of the CPS system design variables led to the creation of a tool capable of automated exploration of the CPS system design space using a Monte Carlo process with variable manipulation, as well as a new orbital thermal analysis global optimization tool that can be utilized for other complex orbital thermal design problems. The optimization tool interface provides a new industry approach for design optimization of on-orbit spacecraft.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.

Rights Holder

James T. Lee


Received from author

File Format




File Size

247 pgs



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