Press Release

NASA “Can Crush” Test Will Aid Future Rocket Design

By SpaceRef Editor
March 17, 2011
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WASHINGTON — NASA will conduct an innovative engineering test on March 23 to help improve future heavy-lift launch vehicles design. The 10:30 a.m. EDT test, which will air live on NASA Television’s Education Channel and the agency’s website, will occur in Building 4619 at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

During the test, a massive 27.5-foot wide, 20-foot-tall aluminum-lithium cylinder will be positioned between two large loading rings and subjected to one million pounds of force until it buckles. The resulting data will help validate new shell buckling knockdown factors, which are complex engineering standards that will help design lightweight, safe and sturdy structures for future launch vehicles. The current knockdown factors date back to pre-Apollo-era studies – well before modern composite materials, manufacturing processes and advanced computer modeling.

Journalists can attend the test or arrive later for a 1:30 p.m. EDT media opportunity. The availability will include Mark Hilburger, senior research engineer at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., and principal investigator of the Shell Buckling Knockdown Factor Project; and Mike Roberts, engineer in Marshall’s Structural Strength Test Branch and the Marshall lead for the test. The project to update the knockdown factors is led by the NASA Engineering and Safety Center in collaboration with Marshall and Langley teams.

To attend the March 23 events, reporters should contact the Marshall Center Public and Employee Communications Office at 256-544-0034 no later than 5 p.m. EDT on March 22. Media representatives must report to the Redstone Visitor Center at Gate 9, Interstate 565 interchange at Rideout Road/Research Park Blvd. Vehicles will be subjected to a security search at the gate. Journalists will need two photo identifications and proof of car insurance.

For NASA TV streaming video, downlink and scheduling information, visit:

The test also will be webcast live via Ustream at:

SpaceRef staff editor.