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NASA to Demo New Spacecraft Fuel Gauge in Upcoming Lunar IM-1 Mission

Standalone spacecraft test

NASA to Demo New Spacecraft Fuel Gauge in Upcoming Lunar IM-1 Mission

NASA’s Radio Frequency Mass Gauge, designed to measure fuel floating inside a spacecraft, will be tested via the IM-1 lunar landing mission, which has a reserved multi-day launch window in mid-February. 

The mission provides the opportunity for the first long-duration test on a standalone spacecraft for the gauge, which depends on radio waves and tank antennae to measure the available propellant. 

Lauren Ameen, the NASA Glenn Research Center’s deputy manager for the Cryogenic Fluid Management Portfolio Project Office in Cleveland, described the test as “a critical point,” as the mission stands to deliver RMFG data that it never had before, NASA said.

The gauge has already passed through smaller-scale experiments onboard the International Space Station and during parabolic flights. 

The RFMG demonstration on the IM-1 mission’s Nova-C lunar lander will provide data that could validate earlier ground simulations and open its next phase of development.  

According to NASA, the gauge’s role could be critical in future long-duration missions of spacecraft using cryogenic fuel, such as liquid hydrogen, liquid oxygen or liquid methane. While highly efficient, such propellants evaporate quickly even at low temperatures, making their storage tricky, the agency added.

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Category: Space