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Creek Road Cryogenics Complex

The Creek Road Cryogenics Complex (CRCC) is a state-of-art facility at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. It consists of four separate test cells: the Small Multi-purpose Research Facility (SMiRF), Cryogenics Components Lab 7 (CCL-7), Cryomotor Test Bed, and 20K to 90K Calorimeter Test Bed.

Facility Overview

SMiRF Test Cell External
Small Multi-purpose Research Facility (SMiRF) Test Cell, external view.

Small Multi-purpose Research Facility

The Small Multi-purpose Research Facility (SMiRF) evaluates the performance of the thermal protection systems required to provide long-term storage (up to 10 years) of cryogenic propellants in space.

SMiRF provides the ability to simulate space, high altitudes and launch pressure environments; conduct calorimetry tests on prototype insulation systems; planetary simulation; and safely handle gaseous and cryogenic propellant. The facility serves as a low-cost, small-scale screening facility for concept and component testing of a wide variety of hardware. It has performed tests (with LH2 as the test fluid) including insulation performance tests for the X-33 vehicle, demonstration of rapid chill and fill of a subscale propellant tank for the High Energy Upper Stage program, and demonstration of a zero boiloff long-term cryogenic storage concept for the Mars Exploration program.

Cryogenics Components Lab 7

The CCL-7 is a smaller version of SMiRF with similar capabilities. It is a highly configurable test cell providing the ability to simulate space and handle hazardous gaseous and cryogenic flammable fluids without compromising personal safety. It supports concept and component testing for cryogenic fluid management (CFM) technology development, planetary simulation, cryogenic motor development and any hazardous commodity testing

Cryomotor Test Bed

The Cryomotor Test Bed is used to evaluate the performance of cryogenically cooled motors. Its structure and support systems were originally built to support cryogenic tests of NASA’s 450 hp and AF 2 MW generator.

20K to 90K Calorimeter Test Bed

The 20K to 90K Calorimeter Test Bed is used to evaluate the performance of different insulation materials. The facility consists of a vacuum vessel 72 inches high by 36 inches in diameter. Warm and cold guards are used to set the boundary conditions being tested and Cryocoolers are used to achieve controllable boundary temperatures. In addition, the facility makes use of scroll and turbo pumps to maintains a steady vacuum level of 1 x 10-7 torr.

Quick Facts

Small Multi-purpose Research Facility
Name Small-Multi Purpose Research Facility (SMiRF)
Dimensions 100 inches long by 72 inches in diameter
Vacuum system Three 10-inch ODPsa
No load pressure 8.5 x 10-6 torr
Pumping speed (air) 7,000 L/s
aOil diffusion pumps
Cryogenics Components Lab 7
Name Cryogenics Components Lab 7 (CCL-7)
Dimensions 30 inches wide by 56 inches long
Cryogenic test fluids LHe, LH2, LN2, LAr, LO2, LCH4 or other as required
No load pressure 1 x 10-6 torr
20K to 90K Calorimeter Test Bed
Name 20K to 90K Calorimeter Test Bed
Dimensions 36 inches wide by 72 inches long
No load pressure 1 x 10-7 torr


Small Multi-purpose Research Facility

The SMiRF vacuum chamber can accommodate test articles as large as 90 inches high by 71 inches in diameter. A programmable thermal shroud system can be used inside the SMiRF chamber to control background temperatures over a temperature range of 200°R to 650°R. Test article size is limited to 65 inches high by 44 inches in diameter when the shroud is installed.

The SMiRF chamber can maintain a vacuum environment of 8.5 x 10-6 torr. The chamber can be evacuated along the Space Shuttle Pressure Ascent profile. Various purge gases are available onsite (GHe and GN2). The facility has also handled GH2 and G02 tests. Up to 512 channels of data can be collected at a nominal rate of 1/s. Data is collected and processed by a dedicated workstation computer and is archived on Glenn’s central computer.

Cryogenics Components Lab 7

20K to 90K Calorimeter Test Bed


Chemical Propulsion Research Complex
Facility Manager: Kyle Phillips

Test Facility Management Branch
Branch Chief: Michael S. McVetta

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