The building of the Phantom Express vehicle is underway, and we are making significant steps in bringing this reusable spaceplane to life. We recently completed fabrication of one of the most crucial parts of the vehicle – liquid oxygen propellant cryotank.
This tank, as well as the forthcoming liquid hydrogen composite cryotank, are key components for the spaceplane. When operational, the propellant tanks will fuel the recently tested AR-22 main engine that launches the vehicle into space.
Engineers across Boeing leveraged the technologies developed from the previous NASA Composite Cryotank Technologies and Demonstration (CCTD) research program and joined with our commercial materials, processes, and equipment.
This vehicle will be the first space vehicle to utilize the much lighter composite cryotanks, saving nearly 40 percent of weight from comparable aluminum tanks. All of these innovative measures will help Phantom Express achieve its operational goal of daily flights to space.
The second tank is due to be completed in 2019. From there, the two tanks will be integrated into final assembly of the vehicle.
Watch this quick time lapse of the composite tank fabrication.