European Space Agency

Demisable High Pressure Tanks for LEO Satcoms


The primary objective of this project is to investigate options to improve the demise behavior of a composite overwrapped pressure vessel (COPV). Those are ranging from basic material properties, material configurations, the influence of the aspect ratio, and shape options to possible add-ons or modifiers. The thermogravimetric characterization of typical COPV materials shall provide a solid ground for a baseline re-entry simulation which is also the benchmark for later improvements. Specific demise parameters for the most promising improvement solution shall be gathered in a plasma wind tunnel test campaign. The demise model of the simulation environment shall be extended to integrate these parameters and allow for a re-entry simulation of a demise-improved tank system. Furthermore, the influence of these improvements or modifications to the COPV shall be studied with regards to cost, complexity, performance, and safety implications.


The consolidated project requirements dictate a metallic liner and an overwrap from high strength fibers to be able to meet the leakage and mass criteria. Since titanium as a liner material and aramidic/kevlar fibers for the overwrap would make matters even worse, the only option are an aluminum liner and carbon-fiber reinforcement. As a safety and fracture critical item, any modification to a COPV requires extensive investigation and testing to become validated.


The benefits of a demise improved COPV range from eased requirements for spacecraft design, a reduction, or even complete cancellation of end of life (EOL) measures to greatly reduced insurance provisions. Ideally, the properties of our demise improved COPV remain largely equal to those of our standard product lines.


Standard COPV with improved demise behavior.

System Architecture

Standard COPV with improved demise behavior.


The project spans over three project phases. The first phase includes a standard material characterization and the baseline re-entry simulation. In the second phase, demise improvement modifications shall be investigated and tested for their demise behavior. In the third phase, the selected improvement modifications shall be evaluated for impact on product properties and compared to the baseline in an improved re-entry simulation.

Current status

The material characterization and baseline simulation from the first phase have been completed. A “most promising” demise improvement solution has been selected from several candidates in an extensive test campaign. Sample design and test setup for the plasma wind tunnel (PWT) test campaign have been finished, and specimen production is currently ongoing. Furthermore, the current main objective is to secure IPR for the selected demise improvement solution.

Status date

Wednesday, April 7, 2021 - 11:53