In the 1980s, when the NASA-backed Space Age Fuel Pressure Vessel was first installed on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, it seemed like a great solution to a problem that would have been solved by replacing a fuel system.
But after a few months, the fuel leak on the vessel would become an annoyance and eventually kill the rocket.
When the Space Age Vessel’s original manufacturer replaced the fuel with another type of fuel, the problem never got better.
“That was a huge win for NASA,” says Steve Gentry, a space historian at the University of Arizona who has researched the Space Era Fuel Pressure vessel.
“We now have two versions of this pressure vessel, and they are very different from each other.”