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Control Derivatives of the F-18 Airplane

These derivatives will be used in designing an active-aeroelastic-wing control system. Flight data gathered by use of the F-18 System Research Aircraft (SRA) based at Dryden Flight Research Center have been used to estimate stability and control derivatives for a baseline F-18 airplane. The data were obtained in the high-dynamic-pressure range of the F-18 flight envelope in an experiment performed in support of a future F-18 program to be devoted to the concept of the active aeroelastic wing (AAW). The AAW technology is intended to integrate aerodynamics, active controls, and aeroelasticity in such a way as to maximize the performance of the airplane. More specifically, the goal of the AAW project will be to maximize the contribution of a reduced-stiffness F-18 wing to roll-rate performance.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components

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Ultrasonically Induced Fountains and Fogs

Diverse visual effects could be produced in computer-controlled displays. Experiments have demonstrated the feasibility of generating fountains and fogs over a body of water (see Figure 1) by utilizing high-intensity ultrasound to induce acoustic streaming, cavitation, and atomization. The transducer used in the experiments had a 10-cm diameter and a 10-cm focal length, was immersed in water at a depth approximately equal to its focal length, and was excited at various amplitudes and at various frequencies from 100 kHz to 2 MHz. It was observed in the experiments that the fountain and fog effects depend on the amplitude and frequency of excitation.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components

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Fail-Safe, Continue-to-Operate Concept for Jackscrews

Redundant nut increases reliability and facilitates inspections. A fail-safe, continue-to-operate design concept for machine jackscrews calls for the incorporation of a redundant follower nut that would assume the axial jack load upon failure of the primary nut. Heretofore, the way to design for increased reliability of jackscrews has been to provide for multiple jackscrews operating in unison. The present fail-safe, continue-to-operate design concept offers an alternative for preventing catastrophic failures in jackscrews, which are used widely in aeronautical, aerospace, and industrial applications.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components

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Pulse-Tube Refrigerator for Liquid Hydrogen

An unusually high operating frequency enables reductions of size and weight. An improved closed-loop, two-stage pulse-tube refrigerator provides 4 W of cooling power at a temperature of 15 K. The original intended application of this refrigerator is in preventing boiloff of liquid hydrogen from a propellant tank aboard a spacecraft. The basic refrigerator design can also be adapted to terrestrial applications like cooling superconducting electronic devices.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components

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Ultrasonic/Sonic Vibrating/Rotating Tool Bits

Teeth are made asymmetric to induce rotation without need for rotary actuators. An easy-to-implement design concept shows promise for improving the performances of impact tool bits used in abrading surfaces, drilling, and coring of rock and rocklike materials. The concept is especially applicable to tools actuated with a combination of ultrasonic and sonic vibrations, as in the cases described in “Ultrasonic/Sonic Drill/Corers With Integrated Sensors (NPO- 20856), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 25, No. 1 (January 2001), page 38. Such tools were originally intended to be used in scientific drilling and coring of rock; they might also be useful for drilling, coring, and surface grinding of rock for art and construction.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components

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Water-Jet Accelerator for Launching a Spacecraft

A proposed ground- based apparatus would accelerate a spacecraft to speed of about mach 1, thus making it possible to increase the payload and/or reduce the cost of launching the space- craft into orbit. The apparatus would include a track along which the spacecraft would ride on a sled. Hundreds of small water jets energized by compressed-air packs would be located under, and at small intervals along, the track. Each jet would be activated in turn as the sled passed by, aiming a high-speed (possibly supersonic) stream of water at baffles on the underside of the sled. The force of water impinging on the baffles would provide levitation and accelerate the sled along the track. Unlike a previously proposed launch-assisting linear electric motor, the water-jet apparatus would function without need for expensive electric-power-conditioning equipment. Unlike another launch-assist concept involving a piston driven along a pneumatic tube, the present concept does not present problems of how to (1) couple the piston to the sled and (2) exert fine control over acceleration. Another advantage of the water-jet concept is redundancy: even if several water jets were to malfunction, the remaining many functional water jets should suffice.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components

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Modular, Highly Maintainable, and Flexible Control Software

This software also lends itself to multitasking and distributed processing. Model Rocket Engine Software System (MRECS) is a system of control software that was originally intended for use in controlling rocket engines but is also applicable to almost any real-time, closed- loop process-control system — for example, the feedback control system of a robot. MRECS affords the capabilities necessary for feedback control, actuation of valves and other devices by use of discrete and/or analog commands, processing of sensor readings, and generation of alarms by comparison of various quantities with limiting values. MRECS is capable of real-time multitasking and is amenable to distributed processing. It is designed, from the outset, to be highly maintainable and to be flexible in the sense that, in response to changing requirements, it can be quickly and reliably modified and tested.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components

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