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Sep 14, 2014, 01:34 AM
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Friction stir welding hits mammoth heights in a machine that will spit out the world's largest fuel tanks in a single piece, pending funding. Or the welding tool could become another A3 test stand without funding.

There is a concept drawing of a completed LH2 tank in the machine. The completed core stage would be much taller than the machine. A lot of pieces still have to be built.

The thing is, if the core stage is just a shuttle external tank to minimize the cost of new tooling, how did they end up spending 10 years building new tooling to build exactly the same tank? The internet has said there's no point in reusing existing rocket parts, because there will always be requirements creepage.

The shuttle tank already used friction stir welding. The 1st 6 tanks used TIG welding. Most of the tanks used polarity plasma arc welding. The final tanks were friction stir welded. They never said how the VAC improves upon what was done before, though it seemed it could make the tanks in fewer pieces.
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