Saint-Gobain Seals Designs and Manufactures Extraordinary Cryogenic Seal for NASA Space Launch System (SLS) Project

Supporting Efforts to Propel Human Beings Deeper into Space

NASA / MSFC - Artist concept of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) Block 1 Configuration

Different Types of Saint-Gobain Seals’ OmniSeal® Spring-Energized Seals

Saint-Gobain Seals’ OmniSeal® RACO™ seal used in cryogenic tanks for rocket propulsion
Saint-Gobain Seals reaches a highperformance mark by producing a cryogenic seal of exceptional size (more than six feet wide) for NASA’s “Space Launch System (SLS)” project, which is commissioned for deeper space exploration -- beyond low Earth orbit (LEO) to an asteroid, Mars and other distant destinations.

Although this launch system replaced the retired Space Shuttle, it was built using proven hardware from the space shuttle era and previous successful exploration programs as well as cutting-edge tooling and manufacturing technology in order to reduce development time and cost. SLS’ first mission, known as Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1), will go into space in late 2018 and uses Saint-Gobain Seals’ OmniSeal® RACO™ spring-energized seals. Designing and manufacturing large seals of this size continue to be very challenging in cryogenic applications; however, Saint-Gobain Seals’ long standing experience of designing sealing solutions for the space industry in various demanding conditions have made the difference to customers who need successful and proven solutions.

This new large seal marks the continuation of Saint- Gobain Seals’ sealing and polymer products used in space exploration and their collaboration on NASA projects, starting as far back as the Space Shuttle Program and progressing with the International Space Station, Falcon 9 rocket, Atlas V launch vehicles, Delta IV Heavy rocket, Mars rover Curiosity, and now the SLS project.

Since OmniSeal® seals handle extreme pressure conditions ranging from vacuum to several hundred PSI (a hundred bar) and temperature conditions ranging from cryogenic to many hundreds of degrees, they are ideal for the SLS, the world’s most powerful rocket. Since the launch vehicle is designed to be flexible and evolvable, being upgraded over time with more powerful versions, the seals will be able to support future demanding payloads including robotic scientific missions to places such as Mars, Saturn and Jupiter.

The evolved configuration development of the SLS will stand 384 feet tall, weigh 6.5 million pounds and generate 9.2 million pounds of thrust for EM-1 at liftoff. The 22-day EM-1 mission will help confirm the integrated system performance of the SLS launch vehicle and unmanned Orion capsule as it travels a stable orbit beyond the moon and returns to Earth. The mission will break the distance record reached by the most remote Apollo spacecraft, and then 30,000 miles farther out (275,000 total miles). The second SLS flight, Exploration Mission 2 (EM-2), will carry four astronauts beyond low Earth orbit for the first time since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

To learn more about Saint-Gobain Seals’ OmniSeal® product line, other product lines and its strategic business unit, visit their website, follow their Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

Tel: 01159 305 000

Published in Valve User Magazine Issue 36

Summer 2020 // Issue 53
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