Standard Article

Fiber-Reinforced Polymer Matrix Composites: Pressure Vessels for Aerospace Applications

Materials Technology

Structural Materials

  1. James Chang1,
  2. Norman Newhouse2

Published Online: 15 DEC 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470686652.eae202

Encyclopedia of Aerospace Engineering

Encyclopedia of Aerospace Engineering

How to Cite

Chang, J. and Newhouse, N. 2010. Fiber-Reinforced Polymer Matrix Composites: Pressure Vessels for Aerospace Applications. Encyclopedia of Aerospace Engineering. .

Author Information

  1. 1

    ISO Pressure Vessel Standard Project, USA

  2. 2

    Lincoln Composites, Inc, Lincoln, NE, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2010


A composite overwrapped pressure vessel (COPV) is a thin liner overwrapped by fiber reinforced polymer matrix composite material (FRPMC) through either wet filament winding process or layup with prepegs. Because of the weight benefit, space shuttle and International Space Station used COPVs for the storage of various fluids including gaseous oxygen, gaseous nitrogen, and gaseous helium. Other space systems such as launch vehicles and satellites also use COPVs in their propulsion or control subsystems. This chapter describes briefly the manufacturing process for producing a COPV and some key design and test requirements that are being imposed on space flight COPVs.


  • composite overwrapped pressure vessel (COPV);
  • impact damage;
  • leak-before-burst (LBB);
  • safe life;
  • nondestructive inspection (NDI)