Application Briefs

Servo Motors Help Launch Vehicles Optimize Fuel

Servo motors MICROMO (the FAULHABER Group) Clearwater, FL 800-807-9166 www.micromo.com Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) builds economical launch vehicles like the Falcon 9 to carry a range of payloads into orbit. One way to control cost is by optimizing fuel burned during launch to minimize waste. The SpaceX team ensures top performance with the help of a special fuel-trim valve, powered by servo motors from MICROMO. Rockets like the Falcon 9 and Falcon 1 at SpaceX burn a fuel known as RP-1, a highly refined form of kerosene that must be mixed with oxygen in order to burn. On the launch vehicle, 4" pipes run from tanks of RP-1 and liquid oxygen (LOX) to combine prior to entering the combustion chamber. RP-1 fuel won’t burn without oxygen, but as long as oxygen is present, the two do not need to be combined in a precise ratio. The problem is that if the ratio of LOX to RP- 1 varies from the optimum mix, either the oxygen will run out before the fuel, or the fuel before the oxygen. Once combustion stops, the material left becomes dead weight, turning from propellant to liability. To ensure this doesn’t happen, the fuel-trim valve adjusts the mixture in real time.

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3D Machine Vision Using Laser Triangulation

Applications for 3D machine vision are rapidly expanding in a variety of industries for several reasons. The first is that vision systems can lower production costs by increasing yields and/or reducing scrap product and wasted raw material. One example of this would be extruded products from various materials (rubber, plastic, metal), where it’s vital to know as soon as the process goes out of specification.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Articles, Applications, Photonics

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Ion Thruster System Powers Spacecraft to Deep-Space Destinations

Ion thruster system and power processing units Aerojet Rocketdyne Sacramento, CA 916-355-4000 www.rocket.com Aerojet Rocketdyne is developing NASA’s Evolutionary Xenon Thruster-Commercial (NEXT-C) Gridded Ion Thruster System. Managed at NASA’s John H. Glenn Research Center, the NEXT-C Gridded Ion Thruster System is designed to power government and commercial spacecraft to deep-space destinations faster, farther, and more fuel efficiently than any other propulsion technology currently available.

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System Tests Flight Control of Dream Chaser Spacecraft

DynoLAB™ data acquisition and control system SAKOR Technologies Okemos, MI 517-332-7256 www.sakor.com SAKOR Technologies has supplied a test system to Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®) to be used to test the atmospheric flight control system for the Dream Chaser® spacecraft. Dream Chaser is a lifting-body, reusable, crewed or uncrewed vehicle. It is owned and operated by Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), and is designed as a space utility vehicle for low-Earth orbit.

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Software Helps NASA Simulate Performance of James Webb Telescope

Femap™ engineering simulation software Siemens PLM Software Plano, TX 972-987-3000 www.siemens.com/plm Scheduled for launch in 2018, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Observatory will operate 1.5 million kilometers above the Earth. Its mission is ambitious: examining every phase of cos mic history. The telescope will look back light years into the past.

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Advanced Holography Offers 3D Fire Measurements

In a propellant fire, large molten aluminum drops form at the burning surface. The drops are lofted into the environment and can severely damage anything that they fall on. Liquid breakup must be understood to predict the scale and intensity of such fires.

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Cameras Provide Critical Data for NASA Rocket’s First Flight

On March 11, NASA tested the powerful five-segment booster for NASA’s new rocket, the Space Launch System. To provide critical data for the rocket’s first flight, eight cameras with more than 40 different settings — including varying exposures — were set up near the forward portion of the booster. During the two-minute test, the cameras were computer-controlled and cycled through pre-programmed settings.

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