Eddy-current displacement sensors
St. Paul, MN
Stennis Space Center, NASA’s Mississippi-based headquarters for testing space vehicles’ rocket propulsion systems, will work in cooperation with displacement sensor manufacturer Lion Precision to develop a smart sensor and associated communication protocols that monitor both valve position and wear. The facility enables the testing of rocket engines and rocket engine components while holding them stationary.
The eddy-current displacement sensors will inspect valves responsible for the flow of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen in rocket engine test cells. Sensor measurements and sensor health information will be transmitted using an expanded MTConnect communication protocol that includes new XML tags for the testing data.
To help prevent rocket engine test failures, which require scrapping and later repeating the test at great expense, the sensors verify the condition of critical valves and measure the final seated position of the valve. The position indicates valve wear and verifies that the control device is shut. The sensors also inform operators when a valve requires maintenance, and monitors their dollars in unnecessary repairs and failed tests.