Software Gives Strength-Testing System a Lift

SolidWorks 3D Design Software
Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp.
Concord, MA

Software from Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. has been used by engineering service company NTE-SENER to develop a system that tests the strength of astronauts who have completed prolonged missions in zero-gravity. The device, called the Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System (MARES), consists of an adjustable chair with a system of pads, levers, electronics, software, and a motor that assesses a dozen muscle groups for weakness and exercise benefits.

altFor MARES to operate properly, the system needed to restrain the astronaut, limit motion to the tested muscles, ensure user safety, deliver resistance, and handle any astronaut between the fifth and ninth height percentiles. To achieve the desired design requirements, SolidWorks CAD software was used to create concepts, review them in three-dimensional detail, and develop a design that simulated those real-world forces.

By exchanging data with SolidWorks users at NASA, NTE-SENER also employed the software to ensure proper fit in the space shuttle, and pack myriad modular components into its restricted space. The simulation software was also able to detect any interference among parts, accommodate several parts designed by another engineering firm, and share SolidWorks models, STEP files, or drawings with manufacturing partners.

MARES was launched last April aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery and will soon be installed in the European Columbus Module of the International Space Station.

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