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Double-Vacuum-Bag Process for Making Resin-Matrix Composites

To prevent formation of voids, volatiles are removed before applying consolidation pressure. A double-vacuum-bag process has been devised as a superior alternative to a single-vacuum-bag process used heretofore in making laminated fiber-reinforced resin-matrix composite-material structural components. This process is applicable to broad classes of high-performance matrix resins — including polyimides and phenolics — that emit volatile compounds (solvents and volatile by-products of resin-curing chemical reactions) during processing. The superiority of the double-vacuum-bag process lies in enhanced management of the volatile compounds. Proper management of volatiles is necessary for making composite material components of high quality: if not removed and otherwise properly managed, volatiles can accumulate in interior pockets as resins cure, thereby forming undesired voids in the finished products.

Posted in: Briefs

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Manufacturing Large Membrane Mirrors at Low Cost

Shapes are determined by edge retention fixtures rather than by precise molds. Relatively inexpensive processes have been developed for manufacturing lightweight, wide-aperture mirrors that consist mainly of reflectively coated, edge-supported polyimide membranes. The polyimide and other materials in these mirrors can withstand the environment of outer space, and the mirrors have other characteristics that make them attractive for use on Earth as well as in outer space:

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Glass/Ceramic Composites for Sealing Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

Ceramic fillers in a glass contribute to strength and fracture toughness. A family of glass/ceramic composite materials has been investigated for use as sealants in planar solid oxide fuel cells. These materials are modified versions of a barium calcium aluminosilicate glass developed previously for the same purpose. The composition of the glass in mole percentages is 35BaO + 15CaO + 5Al2O3 + 10B2O3 + 35SiO2. The glass seal was found to be susceptible to cracking during thermal cycling of the fuel cells.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Composite Elastic Skins for Shape-Changing Structures

Anisotropic stiffness properties can be tailored for specific applications. Composite elastic skins having tailorable mechanical properties have been invented for covering shape-changing (“morphable”) structures. These skins are intended especially for use on advanced aircraft that change shapes in order to assume different aerodynamic properties.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Software for Allocating Resources in the Deep Space Network

TIGRAS 2.0 is a computer program designed to satisfy a need for improved means for analyzing the tracking demands of interplanetary space-flight missions upon the set of ground antenna resources of the Deep Space Network (DSN) and for allocating those resources. Written in Microsoft Visual C++, TIGRAS 2.0 provides a single rich graphical analysis environment for use by diverse DSN personnel, by connecting to various data sources (relational databases or files) based on the stages of the analyses being performed. Notable among the algorithms implemented by TIGRAS 2.0 are a DSN antenna-load-forecasting algorithm and a conflict-aware DSN schedule-generating algorithm. Computers running TIGRAS 2.0 can also be connected using SOAP/XML to a Web services server that provides analysis services via the World Wide Web. TIGRAS 2.0 supports multiple windows and multiple panes in each window for users to view and use information, all in the same environment, to eliminate repeated switching among various application programs and Web pages. TIGRAS 2.0 enables the use of multiple windows for various requirements, trajectory-based time intervals during which spacecraft are viewable, ground resources, forecasts, and schedules. Each window includes a time navigation pane, a selection pane, a graphical display pane, a list pane, and a statistics pane.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Expert Seeker

Expert Seeker is a computer program of the knowledge- management-system (KMS) type that falls within the category of expertise-locator systems. The main goal of the KMS system implemented by Expert Seeker is to organize and distribute knowledge of who are the domain experts within and without a given institution, company, or other organization. The intent in developing this KMS was to enable the re-use of organizational knowledge and provide a methodology for querying existing information (including structured, semistructured, and unstructured information) in a way that could help identify organizational experts. More specifically, Expert Seeker was developed to make it possible, by use of an intranet, to do any or all of the following:

Posted in: Briefs

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High-Speed Recording of Test Data on Hard Disks

Disk Recording System (DRS) is a systems- integration computer program for a direct-to-disk (DTD) high-speed data-acquisition system (HDAS) that records rocket-engine test data. The HDAS consists partly of equipment originally designed for recording the data on tapes. The tape recorders were replaced with hard-disk drives, necessitating the development of DRS to provide an operating environment that ties two computers, a set of five DTD recorders, and signal-processing circuits from the original tape-recording version of the HDAS into one working system. DRS includes three subsystems: (1) one that generates a graphical user interface (GUI), on one of the computers, that serves as a main control panel; (2) one that generates a GUI, on the other computer, that serves as a remote control panel; and (3) a data-processing subsystem that performs tasks on the DTD recorders according to instructions sent from the main control panel. The software affords capabilities for dynamic configuration to record single or multiple channels from a remote source, remote starting and stopping of the recorders, indexing to prevent overwriting of data, and production of filtered frequency data from an original time-series data file.

Posted in: Software, Briefs

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