Sierra Lobo provides expertise in aerospace fluids acquisition and management, particularly in cryogens, gases, hypergols, and hydrocarbons. Sierra Lobo personnel operate and maintain the Government’s largest and most diverse inventory of propellants equipment in support of the NASA, Air Force, Naval Ordnance Testing Unit (NOTU), and commercial customers.
At NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) Sierra Lobo supports five active launch pads and the Defense Energy Support Center (DESC) Defense Fuels Storage Point (DFSP). In addition, cryogenic propellants and related purge gas systems are designed, fabricated, installed, operated, and maintained to support Research and Development test facility operations at NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC), Langley Research Center (LaRC), and Ames Research Center (ARC).
At KSC, Sierra Lobo personnel are responsible for acquisition, storage, and distribution of 28 different fluids (hypergols, cryogens, gases, hydrocarbons) performing 20,000 propellant operations per year at hundreds of user interfaces. We are responsible for 210 mobile equipment items and 64 facility propellant systems.
Safely Delivering Liquid Oxygen and Hydrogen, and Gaseous Nitrogen and Helium to Space Shuttle Launch Operations
Sierra Lobo provides real time support to Kennedy Space Center (KSC) launch operations. Sierra Lobo personnel operate the High Purity Liquid Oxygen (LO2) and Liquid Hydrogen (LH2) tankers for direct loading of the Shuttle Fuel Cell Dewars. Our staff ensures the availability and delivery of LH2 and LO2 for launch operations.
We manage the gaseous nitrogen pipeline to Launch Pads 39A and 39B, and also operate the gaseous helium Converter Compressor Facility (CCF), which compresses gaseous helium for pipeline delivery to Pads 39A, 39B, and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS).
The CCF converts liquid helium into gas and then compresses it to nearly 6,000 psi to support operations. These pipelines provide up to 1.7 billion scf of gaseous nitrogen and 70 million scf of gaseous helium per year to the KSC and CCAFS launch facilities.
Mobile Fleet Operations and Management of Specialty Fluids
Sierra Lobo also provides mobile-fleet operations, delivering cryogenics and high-pressure gases. We use rechargers to pump up fixed systems for high-pressure nitrogen, helium, oxygen, hydrogen, and Breathing Air (BAIR). We also provide specialty fluids, such as:
- Refrigerant 21
- Solvent 113
- Halo 1301
We provide up to 14,000 of these operations per year, and deliver 7,000 K-bottles per year as well.
Turnkey Propellant Conditioning and Feed Systems Help Simplify Testing
To aid in evaluating a wide range of specific propellants and pressures, Sierra Lobo has designed, fabricated, and assembled two types of propellant conditioning systems. Called the PCFS, the Propellant Conditioning Feed System was initially designed for the Propulsion and Cryogenic Advanced Development (PCAD) effort at NASA.
These two systems, one for Liquid Methane and the other for Liquid Oxygen, provides NASA with the ability to test their 100 lbf Reaction Control Engine (RCE) to evaluate its performance over a wide range of specific propellant temperatures and pressures. The same systems can also be used to supply other rocket engines up to 1,000 lbf. Each skid-mounted system contains:
- A supply tank
- A conditioning system (bath and heater)
- A run tank
- All supporting gas pressurization and purge systems
- All required instrumentation and data acquisition
- A complete control system for remote operation of both systems
A recirculation pumping system is also included in the methane system to recondition the methane with minimal propellant losses. These skids will condition Liquid Oxygen and Liquid Methane from a densified condition to several hundreds of PSI saturated condition prior to delivery into the respective run tank. A feed line from the run tank will be connected to the facility engine shutoff valve that feeds the engine.
These turnkey systems can be fully integrated into customers’ facilities and interface mechanically and electronically with the existing facility equipment.
Rocket Fuel Measurement Gauge Enhances Launch Safety
Sierra Lobo not only manages hazardous fuels and propellant environments, we also help measure cryogenic fuels via our patented product called the Cryo-Tracker® . The Cryo-Tracker® was developed to measure cryogenic propellant levels.
Secure Hydrocarbon Propellants Storage and Receiving
Sierra Lobo has expertise in planning, receiving, storing, and delivering hydrocarbon propellants, and related gases in government facilities, such as the NASA Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Safely Developing, Managing and Testing Heated and Cracked Hypersonic Fuels
Sierra Lobo also provides our government and commercial customers with expertise in developing, managing, and testing hypersonic fuels. In 2004, Sierra Lobo built a fuel cracker for ISTAR hypersonic testing at NASA Plum Brook’s Hypersonic Test Facility. In 2009, Sierra Lobo was selected to reproduce a 1/6 model of this fuel cracker at NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC).
This turnkey system is housed at GRC’s CE-5 Facility within the Engine Research Building.
CE-5 is a high pressure, high temperature flametube/sector combustion test facility with laser diagnostic and exhaust emission measurement capability. .
The rig was activated in 2009 and achieved all of its design conditions During testing, engineers ran fuel through the bypass line at about 1-gpm and heated the fuel to 900˚F, 1000˚F, and 1100˚F respectively, and cracked fuel in the process. For this test, Sierra Lobo Engineers wrote a software program to model the system and were able to anticipate the pressure throughout the system at various temperatures and a constant fuel flow.
The CE-5 facility is slated to test other heated and cracked jet fuels with variable injector and combustor configurations at differing conditions in 2010 and 2011. This Sierra Lobo-designed system will allow GRC to enter into a new arena of heated and cracked hypersonic fuels testing for near term military applications and long term commercial applications. Leveraging this successful system, Sierra Lobo has been tapped to build a system similar to the ISTAR heater to support DARPA hypersonic testing at NASA GRC’s PSL facility http://facilities.grc.nasa.gov/psl/index.html in 2010.
Securely Storing and Delivering Hypergols and Other Hazardous Materials
When it comes to storing and distributing various hypergol fuels and other hazardous materials, Sierra Lobo team members are experts. For NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), Sierra Lobo provides the propellants to launch programs with a fleet of mobile transports. These propellants include the hypergolic fuels hydrazine and monomethyl hydrazine (MMH), and the hypergolic oxidizer variations of dinitrogen tetroxide (N2O4).
We operate and maintain Fuel Storage Area No.1 on the CCAFS, which includes 31 fixed systems and 60 mobile equipment items. Sierra Lobo personnel perform approximately 800 hypergol operations per year.