Consolidated Requirements Approach to Propellants Support at KSC/CCAFS
Cryogenic fluids, hypergols, and high pressure gases are required by most of the aerospace programs at the KSC/CCAFS Spaceport. These products, including helium, hydrogen, hypergols, liquefied natural gas, nitrogen, and oxygen are generally referred to as propellants. Individual programs can arrange their own supply contracts for propellants or they can participate in a consolidated approach through NASA.
The NASA Propellants and Life Support (PLS) branch offers one-stop access to propellants and associated services. PLS maintains expertise in logistics, engineering and business to provide Spaceport programs with safe, reliable, and cost effective support. All the NASA Centers across the USA rely on the propellants supply contracts developed and managed by PLS.
This consolidated approach recognizes that each program’s supply requirements (i.e., quantities, pressures, delivery rates) are independent, unique, and vary greatly for processing flight hardware, preparing for launch, and conducting the launch campaign. When viewed on an individual program basis, these variations appear as peaks and valleys that are costly for suppliers to support. When consolidated, the peaks and valleys of multiple programs are coordinated so there is more consistency of demand and a much better business case for suppliers to support. This translates into better supplier competition, higher reliability, and lower costs. A good example is bulk cryogens, where programs would otherwise compete for the limited production and delivery capacity in the region. Consolidating requirements from multiple programs also provides contracts that contain more margin for accommodating changes in requirements and for contingencies.
Another strength of consolidated requirements with PLS coordination is shared resources. Consolidation allows for sharing of capital costs of air separation plants, converter compressor facilities, and pipeline systems that drive high costs when utilized by a single customer. This is particularly important for large volume, high pressure gas requirements (e.g., pressures above 3,000psi are generally not supported commercially). PLS maintains shared infrastructure with broad capabilities for delivering the cryogens, high pressure gases (to 10,000psi), and hypergolic propellants.
Participating in this established consolidated approach for propellants support allows a program to focus its resources on the complex work of processing and launching flight hardware. Once a program is a participant, their designated representative need only phone or email to obtain support.
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