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Tool Suite Enables Software Testing for Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle

LDRA tool suite LDRA San Bruno, CA 650-583-8880 www.ldra.com Aimed at safely transferring astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS), the Moon, Mars, and other destinations beyond low-Earth orbit (LEO), the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) is a state-of-the-art human spaceflight system. Lockheed Martin Corporation has selected the LDRA tool suite for software verification and automated testing on the Orion CEV program, and to enable developers to achieve the stringent safety-critical standards required to ensure safe transfer of the astronauts. NASA has awarded Lockheed Martin a multimillion-dollar contract for Orion’s development.

Posted in: Application Briefs

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Immersive Display System Enables Virtual Reality in NASA Lab

Immersive CAVE™ display system Mechdyne Corp. Marshalltown, IA 641-754-4649 www.mechdyne.com Mechdyne Corporation has installed a CAVE™ display system in the Fossett Laboratory for Virtual Planetary Exploration at Washington University St. Louis (WUSTL). WUSTL is home to the Geosciences Node of the NASA Planetary Data System, with responsibility for managing data related to the study of surfaces and interiors of terrestrial planetary bodies. The Laboratory will provide 3D imaging capability for visualization of data collected by national and international space exploration programs, including the ongoing Mars Exploration Program.

Posted in: Application Briefs

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Miniature Latching Valve

This valve remains either open or closed when power is not supplied. A miniature latching valve has been invented to satisfy a need for an electrically controllable on/off pneumatic valve that is lightweight and compact and remains in the most recently commanded open or closed state when power is not supplied. The valve (see figure) includes a poppet that is moved into or out of contact with a seat to effect closure or opening, respectively, of the flow path. Motion of the poppet is initiated by electrical heating of one of two opposing pairs of nickel/titanium shape-memory alloy (SMA) wires above their transition temperature: heated wires contract to their “remembered” length, applying tension to pull the poppet toward or away from the seat. A latch consisting mainly of a bistable Belleville washer (a conical spring) made of a hardened stainless steel operates between two stable positions corresponding to the fully closed or fully open state, holding the poppet in one of these positions when power is not applied to either pair of SMA wires.

Posted in: Briefs

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Alignment-Insensitive Lower-Cost Telescope Architecture

This next-generation architecture enables construction of very large telescopes. This architecture features an active wavefront sensing and control scheme along with methods for measuring the relative positions of the primary to aft optics, such as the secondary mirror, and should enable larger and cheaper telescope architectures needed for future applications. This design overcomes the stability requirements of large telescope primary mirrors.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Improved Descent-Rate Limiting Mechanism

This braking device can be used to capture and slow a moving vehicle. An improved braking cable-payout mechanism has been developed. Like other such mechanisms, this mechanism can be used as a braking or shock-absorbing device for any of a variety of purposes — for example, enabling a person to descend from an upper floor of a burning building at a safe speed, capturing and slowing a moving vehicle, or limiting the shock load generated by opening of a parachute. Whereas other such mechanisms operate at payout speeds that vary with the length of payout, this mechanism operates at approximately constant payout speed, regardless of the length of cord that has already been paid out.

Posted in: Mechanics, Briefs, TSP

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Spherical Sensor Configurations for Three-Dimensional Detecting and Tracking

Spherical Sensor Configurations (SSC) have been designed for detecting and tracking signals in three dimensions. The Spherical Sensor Configurations offer distinct advantages over contemporary imaging systems, significantly enhancing three-dimensional (3D) situational awareness. Sensor systems utilizing a spherical geometry as a foundation (Figure 1) can be designed for a variety of applications.

Posted in: Articles

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Chemical Passivation of Li+-Conducting Solid Electrolytes

Such passivation could enable long-life lithium rechargeable cells. Plates of a solid electrolyte that exhibits high conductivity for positive lithium ions can now be passivated to prevent them from reacting with metallic lithium. Such passivation could enable the construction and operation of high-performance, long-life lithium-based rechargeable electrochemical cells containing metallic lithium anodes. The advantage of this approach, in comparison with a possible alternative approach utilizing lithium-ion graphitic anodes, is that metallic lithium anodes could afford significantly greater energy-storage densities.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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