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Self-Advancing Step-Tap Drills

It is not necessary to apply axial drilling forces. Self-advancing tool bits that are hybrids of drills and stepped taps make it possible to form threaded holes wider than about 1/2 in. (about 13 mm) without applying any more axial force than is necessary for forming narrower pilot holes. These self-advancing stepped-tap drills were invented for use by space-suited astronauts performing repairs on reinforced carbon/carbon space-shuttle leading edges during space walks, in which the ability to apply axial drilling forces is severely limited. Self-advancing stepped-tap drills could also be used on Earth for making wide holes without applying large axial forces.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Self-Regulating Water-Separator System for Fuel Cells

This system would not depend on hydrophobic or hydrophilic surfaces. A proposed system would perform multiple coordinated functions in regulating the pressure of the oxidant gas (usually, pure oxygen) flowing to a fuel-cell stack and in removing excess product water that is generated in the normal fuel-cell operation. The system could function in the presence or absence of gravitation, and in any orientation in a gravitational field.

Posted in: Machinery & Automation, Briefs

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Code Assesses Risks Posed by Meteoroids and Orbital Debris

BUMPER II version 1.92e is a computer code for assessing the risk of damage from impacts of micrometeoroids and orbital debris on the International Space Station (ISS), including those parts of the ISS covered by shielding that affords partial protection against such impacts. (Other versions of BUMPER II have been written for other spacecraft.) Bumper II quantifies the probability of penetration of shielding and the damage to spacecraft equipment as functions of the size, shape, and orientation of the spacecraft; the parameters of its orbit; failure criteria that quantify impact damage at the threshold of failure for each spacecraft surface; and the impact-damage resistance of each spacecraft surface as defined by “ballistic limit equations” that return the size of a failure causing particle as a function of target parameters (including materials, configurations, thicknesses, and gap distances) and impact conditions (impact velocity and the density and shape of the impactor). BUMPER II version 1.92e contains several dozen ballistic limit equations that are based on results from thousands of hypervelocity impact tests conducted by NASA on ISS shielding and other hardware, and on results from numerical simulations of impacts.

Posted in: Briefs

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Asymmetric Bulkheads for Cylindrical Pressure Vessels

These bulkheads would offer advantages over prior concave, convex, and flat bulkheads. Asymmetric bulkheads are proposed for the ends of vertically oriented cylindrical pressure vessels. These bulkheads, which would feature both convex and concave contours, would offer advantages over purely convex, purely concave, and flat bulkheads (see figure). Intended originally to be applied to large tanks that hold propellant liquids for launching spacecraft, the asymmetric-bulkhead concept may also be attractive for terrestrial pressure vessels for which there are requirements to maximize volumetric and mass efficiencies.

Posted in: Briefs

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Explicit Pore Pressure Material Model in Carbon-Cloth Phenolic

The explicit model predicts some quantities that a prior implicit model cannot. An explicit material model that uses predicted pressure in the pores of a carbon-cloth phenolic (CCP) composite has been developed. This model is intended to be used within a finite-element model to predict phenomena specific to CCP components of solid-fuel-rocket nozzles subjected to high operating temperatures and to mechanical stresses that can be great enough to cause structural failures. Phenomena that can be predicted with the help of this model include failures of specimens in restrained-thermal-growth (RTG) tests, pocketing erosion, and ply lifting. Heretofore, an implicit formulation has been used to model the pore pressure. The differences between explicit and implicit models can be illustrated with the theoretical solution for stress and strain in an RTG test. The equations for the explicit case are:

Posted in: Briefs

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Corrosion Inhibitors as Penetrant Dyes for Radiography

These substances now have dual uses. A Weld Crack Is More Clearly Visible in a neutron radiograph made after treatment with an LVCI. Liquid/vapor-phase corrosion inhibitors (LVCIs) have been found to be additionally useful as penetrant dyes for neutron radiography (and perhaps also x-radiography). Enhancement of radiographic contrasts by use of LVCIs can reveal cracks, corrosion, and other defects that may be undetectable by ultrasonic inspection, that are hidden from direct optical inspection, and/or that are difficult or impossible to detect in radiographs made without dyes.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs

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Meshed-Pumpkin Super-Pressure Balloon Design

Masses of long-life, high-altitude balloons could be decreased substantially. An improved, lightweight design has been proposed for super-pressure balloons used to carry scientific instruments at high altitudes in the atmosphere of Earth for times as long as 100 days. [A super- pressure balloon is one in which the pressure of the buoyant gas (typically, helium) is kept somewhat above ambient pressure in order to maintain approximately constant density and thereby regulate the altitude.] The proposed design, called "meshed pumpkin," incorporates the basic concept of the pumpkin design, which is so named because of its appearance (see figure). The pumpkin design entails less weight than does a spherical design, and the meshed-pumpkin design would reduce weight further.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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