An Accurate Prediction of Propellant Distribution Rates in an Upper Stage Liquid Propulsion System

Trinh T. Nguyen* The Aerospace Corporation El Segundo, California 90245

Abstract
Most upper stage bi-propellant liquid propulsion systems are designed with multiple fuel and oxidizer tanks to maximize the propellant load and minimize tank manufacturing costs. In some instances, a multiple tank configuration with tanks distributed about the spacecraft spin axis will enhance the dynamic stability of the spacecraft. During the course of a long duration propulsion system maneuver, however, differences in propellant line resistance as well as differences in performance characteristics of the propellant flow control devices such as check valves, filters and regulators in the tank pressurization subsystem will cause the propellant drainage rate to vary from tank to tank. The situation worsens during the coast periods between burns when tank-to-tank propellant migration tends to occur. Under these circumstances, the spacecraft center of gravity will be shifted and undesirable spacecraft tilt angle growth will occur. Excessive growth of the tilt angle may tumble the spacecraft and loss of the satellite is possible. To assist in understanding the propellant flow rate distribution in this situation, a computer model has been developed to simulate the transient propellant flow in a network of feedlines and multiple pressurized tanks on a spinning spacecraft. This model has been validated and has proved to be an indispensable tool for the Defense Satellite Communication System (DSCS) program where it has successfully and accurately reconstructed all telemetry data of the DSCS Integrated Apogee Boost System (DSCS/IABS). This paper will present the modeling approach used to simulate a multiple pressurized tank system, the predicted transient propellant flow during an example coast period, and a proposed solution to the tank-to-tank propellant migration problem.

Symbols

Description Check Valve Line Fluid Inertia Liquid Apogee Engine Check Valve Flow Coefficient Propellant Mixture Ratio Propellant Flow Rate from Node i to node j , lbm/sec Pressurant Flow Rate, lbm/sec Distance from Propellant Interface to Spin Axis, ft Line Effective Resistance CV Crack Pressure, psid Pressure Drop across CV, psid CV Reseat Pressure, psid Propellant Density, lbm/ft3 Spacecraft Spin Rate, rad/sec

CV I LAE K CV MR & mi , j
& mP r
R !PCrack !PCV !PRe seat

" #

I. Introduction
In general, a bi-propellant upper stage propulsion system with a multiple propellant tank configuration designed to transfer the spin stabilized spacecraft into the required orbit undergoes long duration burn and coast maneuvers. In some instances, due to the difference between tank-to-tank consumption rates during the burn and also due to the inadvertent tank-to-tank propellant migration during the coast period, the spacecraft spin inertia ratios can be driven in adverse directions. Therefore the spacecraft stability, tilt angle, and pointing errors are strongly influenced by the propellant flow characteristics. This paper presents an analytical approach which accurately predicts the propellant flow distribution rate in a multiple tank upper stage bi-propellant propulsion system. This model has been successfully validated using existing telemetry

Nomenclature
*

Engineering Specialist, Propulsion Department Copyright 1996 by the Aerospace Corporation. Published by the International Astronautical Federation with Permission.

data from the first DSCS/IABS mission. In addition, it has also been used to evaluate several potential design modifications suggested for the DSCS/IABS system. II. Analytical Model Description To demonstrate the present analytical model’s high degree of fidelity, it is employed here to reconstruct the DSCS/IABS first mission tilt angle growth caused by the difference in propellant drainage rates from eight propellant tanks during the burn and predominantly by tank-to-tank propellant migration during the coast period. DSCS/IABS was selected as an example because the tilt angle profile telemetry data as well as all propulsion system component acceptance data are available. The presented methodology can also be applied to any spinning upper stage propulsion system. Figure 1 depicts the DSCS/IABS bipropellant pressure-fed propulsion system which consists of a helium pressurization subsystem in the upper half and two identical propellant subsystems in the bottom half. Monomethylhydrazine (MMH) and nitrogen tetroxide with 3% nitric oxide (MON3) are commonly used as fuel and oxidizer, respectively. The LAE nominal mixture ratio (MR) is about 1.64.
He He

fuel and oxidizer vapors in the situation where check valves fail open from both propellant sides, an additional check valve is installed at the inlet of each propellant branch (this check valve will be referred as the branch check valve from here on). Prior to main engine burn (MEB), low pressure and high pressure pyro valves are blown to pressurize the propellant tanks to their initial ullage pressures. When the initialization process is completed, the regulator is at lockup pressure, and each propellant tank is at regulator lockup pressure less the reseat pressures of the tank and branch check valves. At the onset of main engine burn, tank check valves begin to open autonomously when the pressure drop across each check valve exceeds its crack pressure. These valves remain open during MEB to allow inflow of pressurant to the propellant tanks in order to maintain ullage pressures at the desired operating conditions. During the coast period, propellant tanks are repressurized until all the check valves are closed. In the following sections, the modeling of each component in the presurization subsystem is briefly described. o High Pressure Helium Tank: The helium pressurant tank pressure, temperature and residual mass are computed using the ideal gas law and conservation laws of mass and energy. Since a typical MEB duration is about an hour, the effect of heat transfer contributed from the tank wall to the helium gas via free convection is considered significant and calculated by using a heat transfer correlation of gas inside a spherical cavity (Ref. 1). o Propellant Tank Ullage Pressure: Propellant ullage pressure, temperature, and mass are computed in the same fashion as for the helium pressurant tanks. The amount of incoming pressurant flow depends on the pressure drop across the inlet check valve and its flow characteristics. o Flow Regulator: Regulator performance characteristics are curve fitted from acceptance test data (Figure 2) where regulator outlet pressures are plotted against helium tank pressure at different test flow rates. These curves are utilized to calculate the regulator outlet pressure given the total pressurant flow rate required and the helium tank pressure.

Filter Series Redundant Regulator Check Valve

1

2 MMH MMH

3

MMH

4

MMH

NTO

NTO

NTO

NTO

5 Orifice

6

LAE-1

LAE-2

Figure 1: Typical Bi-propellant Upper Stage Propulsion System Schematic II.1 Pressurization Subsystem Modeling The helium pressurization subsystem consists of two high pressure helium tanks, two filters located upstream and downstream of a series redundant flow regulator and two filters along the feedline of each propellant pressurization branch. The pressurant flow through each propellant tank is controlled by a dual check valve (dual check valve provides redundancy in the event a valve fails closed). To circumvent the undesirable mixing of 2

fuel and oxidizer flow feedline network, respectively. Differences in crack pressures imply that the check valves will not crack open simultaneously. Similarly, the deviation in reseat pressures, though small, will lead to nonuniform closure of all check valves following the end of MEB.

Figure 2: Regulator Performance Characteristics o Check Valves: All check valves must be completely tested over the pressurant operating flow rates and temperatures in order to characterize their performance. Check valve acceptance test data commonly consist of tables of pressure drop versus flow rate at different operating temperatures. To simplify the analysis and to optimize the computation time, a linear fit has been found to be the most appropriate correlation for the check valve pressure drop as a function of flow rate and vice versa. Figure 3 shows a sample linear fit to acceptance test data of one of the ten check valves installed in the first DSCS/IABS mission.

Figure 4a: MMH Crack and Reseat Pressures

Figure 4b: MMH/MON-3 Crack and Reseat Pressures Check valve operation modeling is summarized by the flow chart depicted in Figure 5. Figure 3: Check Valve Performance Characteristics Depicted in this Figure is the check valve pressure drop !PCV versus the check valve mass flow rate
N O M= 0 p YS E CO D L SE OE PN M (A PD ! CV$ ! Crack P P ! CV$ ! Reseat P P C V heck alve p T ata) State? YS E R eturn M (A PD p T ata) Set C S T O en V tate o p N O M =0 p Set C S T C VState o losed tate R eturn R eturn

& mP which is conveniently correlated by:
& !PCV ,i = K CV ,i mP + !PRe seat ,i
(1)

R eturn

where K CV ,i and !PRe seat ,i are the check valve flow coefficients and reseat pressures, respectively. Figures 4a and 4b represent the variations in reseat and crack pressures between check valves on the 3

Figure 5: Check Valve Operation Logic o Filter: Pressurant filters are modeled in the same fashion as the check valves, where filter acceptance data of pressure drop and flow rate are

linearly correlated. Figure 6 shows a typical filter acceptance test data from the first DSCS/IABS mission.

He

He

Filter Series Redundant Regulator Check Valve

1

2 MMH MMH

3

MMH

4

MMH

NTO

NTO

NTO

NTO

5

6

Figure 7: Propellant Network During Coast Period The quasi-steady state Bernouilli’s equation is modified via the addition of the time dependent term describing the flow inertia effect (Reference 2) as follows:
!Pij %
& dm 1 & & "# 2 ( ri2 % r j2 ) = Rij mij mij + I ij ij (2) 2 dt

Figure 6: Filter Performance Characteristics o Feedline and Pyro Valves: Since the pressurant flow pressure drops along the feedline and across pyrovalve are very small, they are neglected by this model. o Pressurization System Modeling Methodology: After engine start, propellant ullage pressures start to decrease due to propellant consumption. Tank check valves will begin to open when the pressure drop across each check valve exceeds its crack pressure. Due to valve-to-valve crack pressure deviations as shown in Figure 4a, tank check valves tend to crack open at different times. An iterative solution scheme is performed to calculate individual check valve pressurant flow rates (using equation (1)) such that pressure balance is maintained throughout the entire pressurization network at each time step. II.2 Propellant Flow Modeling

where the second term on the left hand side of (2) is the apparent head attributed by the spin potential effect (the DSCS/IABS nominal spin rate # is about 30 rpm ), and Rij and I ij are the line effective resistance and fluid inertia from node i to node j , respectively. The presence of the absolute sign in the first term of the right hand side of the above equation is indicative of reverse flow allowance. Application of the above equation to the 6 nodes of each propellant side (Figure 8) results in a system of 5 differential equations for each propellant branch:
!P % 15 !P25 & dm 1 & & "# 2 ( r12 % r52 ) = R15 m15 m15 + I15 15 dt 2 & dm25 1 2 2 2 & & % "# ( r2 % r5 ) = R25 m25 m25 + I 25 dt 2 & dm36 1 2 2 2 & & % "# ( r3 % r6 ) = R36 m36 m36 + I 36 dt 2 & dm46 1 & & % "# 2 ( r42 % r62 ) = R46 m46 m46 + I 46 dt 2 & dm56 1 & & % "# 2 ( r52 % r62 ) = R56 m56 m56 + I56 dt 2

(3) (4) (5) (6) (7)

During the long duration MEB of the DSCS/IABS, the propellant flow computation in the feedline network is trivial, quasi-steady state nodeto-node Bernouilli’s equation of pressure drops and flow rates from each tank outlet to the engine inlet are solved at each time step. This strategy, however, fails in the coast period when the propellant flows to both LAE engines terminate and tank-to-tank propellant migrations tend to occur. The propellant flow network during the coast period can be represented schematically in Figure 7, where the propellant feedline branch to either LAE inlet is removed.

!P36

!P46 !P56

Continuity conditions at node 5 and 6 require: (8) & & & m15 + m25 = m56 & & & m36 + m46 = % m56 (9) Each propellant side is thus governed by a set of 5 differential equations and 2 continuity equations. There are 7 unknowns associated with each 4

propellant branch, namely 5 propellant flow rates and two pressures (at nodes 5 and 6). The pressure at nodes 1 and 4 are computed directly from the ullage pressures and the apparent head in the pressurization model. Therefore, the propellant flow network is completely defined by a system of 7 governing equations. Direct substitution reduces the above system to a 3 by 3 system of differential equations written in matrix form as follows:
r ~ r & & • mt = f (10)

integrated into the DSCS/IABS spacecraft dynamic simulation code. III. Model Validation Since limited propulsion telemetry data channels were available on the first DSCS/IABS mission (helium tank pressure, skin temperature, and LAE inlet pressures), only some of the presented figures include telemetry data for comparisons. Figures 8 to 10 show that the present model has accurately reconstructed the helium tank pressure and LAE fuel and oxidizer inlet pressures.

where the matrix & is defined by:
0 %( 25 $ !(1 + ( 25 ) ~ # 0 & ' I15 # (( 36 + ( 46 ) ( 46 & (11) & # 1 ( 56 & %( 36 " % I ij , where ( = ij I15 & 'm * r ) 15 , (12) & & m = ) m36 , )& , m56 + ( and
1 ' 2 2 2 & & & & & & ) !P + "# ( r1 % r2 ) % R15 m15 m15 % R25 ( m56 % m15 ) m56 % m15 12 2 r ) 1 & & & & & & f = ) !P34 + "# 2 ( r32 % r42 ) % R36 m36 m36 % R46 ( m56 % m36 ) m56 % m36 2 ) 1 ) 2 2 2 & & & & & & ) !P + "# ( r1 % r3 ) % R15 m15 m15 % R36 m36 m36 + R56 m56 m56 13 ( 2

~

[ [

]* , , ], ,
, , +

Figure 8: Helium Tank Pressure Profile for the first DSCS/IABS Flight

(13) The inverse matrix & by:

~ %1

can be found analytically

( 25(36 ( 25((36 + ( 46 ) $ !(36( 46 + (56 ((36 + ( 46 ) 1 ~ (4 ( 25 + (56 (1+ ( 25 ) ( 46 (1+ ( 25 ) & &%1 ' # & )# # & %((36 + ( 46 ) (36 (1+ ( 25 ) (1+ ( 25 )((36 + ( 46 )% "

(14) where
) ' I15 [(1 + ( 25 )(( 36( 46 + ( 56 (( 36 + ( 46 )) + ( 25 (( 36 + ( 46 )].

Figure 9: LAE MMH Inlet Pressure Profiles for the First DSCS/IABS Flight

Thus, the propellant mass flow rate derivative vectors can be solved directly by:
r r ~ & mt = & %1 • f (15)

The pressurization model and the propellant model are combined and solved simultaneously. In order to reconstruct the DSCS/IABS tilt angle history, the combined propellant flow and pressurization model is 5

Figure 10: LAE MON-3 Inlet Pressure Profiles for the First DSCS/IABS Flight

Propellant tank ullage pressure profiles are presented in Figures 11 and 12. As portrayed, tank ullage pressures vary from tank to tank but remain almost constant during MEB (MEB duration is about 60 minutes). Variations in tank ullage pressure levels render different propellant drainage rates between tanks. These rates are further deviated by variations in tank trim orifice impedances. At the end of MEB, tank ullage pressures start to recover to the regulator lockup pressure less tank and branch check valve reseat pressures. Results indicate that it takes approximately 14 minutes for the propellant tanks to be completely repressurized.

Figure 14: MON-3 Tank Pressurant Flow Rate Profiles Figures 13 and 14 show the pressurant flow rate profiles for the fuel and oxidizer tanks, indicating that tank check valves return to the closed position at different times during the coast period. This nonuniform closure of all tank check valves in conjunction with the spin potential effect caused by different propellant residuals in each propellant tank become the driver to induce tank-to-tank propellant migration until head balance between both fuel and oxidizer sides are achieved. The propellant migration direction tends to be from the tank with less mass residual (closer to spin axis, more spin potential) to the tank with more mass residual (farther away from spin axis, less spin potential). As a result, the propellant residual is more unevenly redistributed between tanks. This explains the excessive growth in the DSCS/IABS tilt angle during the first 14 minutes of the coast maneuver. Figure 15 shows the present model reconstruction of the DSCS/IABS tilt angle profile compared to telemetry data. Using measured impedance values of tank trim orifices and check valves, the present model closely captures all the essential dynamic elements of the DSCS/IABS behavior, though it underpredicts the actual tilt angle profile by approximately 3o at the end of MEB and at the end of the coast period. Because check valve acceptance test data (Figure 3) are very inconsistent, biased values are added to check valve impedances in order to obtain a matched tilt angle profile. This is accomplished by using biased values of ± 0.037 psi in check valve reseat pressures. As shown in Figure 15, the biased case traces that actual tilt angle profile very well.

Figure 11: MMH Tank Pressure Profiles

Figure12: MON-3 Tank Pressure Profiles

Figure 13: MMH Tank Pressurant Flow Rate Profiles 6

He

He

Filter Latch Valve Series Redundant Regulator Check Valve
LV

Normally Closed Pyro-Valve

1

2 M MH M MH

3

MMH

4

M MH

NTO

NTO

NTO

NTO

5 Orifice

6

LAE-1

LAE-2

Figure 15: Tilt Angle Profile Comparison In general, the present model has accurately predicted the pressurant flow as well as the propellant flow characteristics which directly impact the DSCS/IABS tilt angle profile. It clearly identifies that the variations of check valve reseat pressures in conjunction with tank trim orifice impedances are the primary cause of the tilt angle growth during MEB. In addition, the model confirms that during the coast period normal operation of the pressurant regulator in association with variations in check valve reseat pressures results in an excessively long propellant tank ullage pressure repressurization period, which causes tankto-tank propellant migration to occur. III. Practical Design Modification and

Figure 17: Upper Stage with Installed Latch Valve The latch valve would be launched in an open position and would be commanded closed at the end of MEB, thus isolating the helium supply from the regulator and propellant tanks. The latch valve would then be commanded open to allow additional trim burns if so required. The pyro-valve installed in parallel with the latch valve would provide a redundant helium path in the unlikely event that the latch valve failed closed. If this happened, the pyro-valve would be commanded open and orbit transfer would have to be accomplished by a single burn strategy if tilt angle growth can not be tolerated. In addition, this design change can be assembled into a single module and easily installed without requiring extensive changes to the current DSCS/IABS feedline network. The power requirements would be negligible since the total weight of the combined valve, including structure and harnessing, should be small. Most important of all, this particular design only requires two command channels for opening and closing the valve during flight and ground testing. To demonstrate the efficacy of this design modification, the first DSCS/IABS mission was reconstructed with this design modification implemented. Simulation results confirm that all tank check valves would close shortly after the closure of the latch valve at the end of MEB, thus eliminating the excessively long repressurization period of the propellant tanks and preventing tank-to-tank propellant migration. Figure 16 depicts the predicted tilt angle profile of the modified DSCS/IABS for the entire mission. The tilt angle growth during the coast period is essentially negligible (this design modification has no influence on the tilt angle profile during MEB).

Simulation
Several potential design modifications have been suggested to the DSCS/IABS system to either reduce or eliminate propellant migration during the coast period following MEB. This can be achieved, for example, by terminating the helium flow at the end of MEB or by resisting the propellant flow between tanks. From a design simplicity and reliability perspective, however, the following modification is found to be the most practical. A high pressure latching solenoid valve is installed in parallel with a normally closed pyrotechnically-activated valve upstream of the DSCS/IABS pressure regulator (Figure 16).

IV. Conclusion
The analytical model of this study has been proven to be an accurate tool to predict propellant 7

and pressurant flows in a complicated feedline and pressurization network. The model has been verified with DSCS/IABS data and used to suggest a design modification to that system. It can be applied as a guideline to assess other upper stage propulsion system designs as well.

Section for their valuable inputs during the course of this study. This work has been supported by the US Air Force under contract F04701-88-C-0089.

References

V. Acknowledgments
The author wishes to acknowledge the assistance of the Control Department at the Aerospace Corporation for their permission to use the DSCS/IABS spacecraft dynamic simulation code. In addition, thanks are also sincerely extended to all members of the Satellite Propulsion

1. ”Handbook of Thermal Design”, by Eric C.
2. Guyer and David L. Brownell, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1989, pp. 1-43 “Fluid Power Control”, by Blackburn, Reethof, Sheaver, MIT, John-Wiley and Sons Press, Inc., 1960

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