Features

Editor's Choice: August 2015

NASA is developing the next generation of radiators using a composite that combines low density, high thermal conductivity, and high strength. A scalable process was developed that incorporates nanoparticles into magnesium that forms a high-strength, high-thermal-conductivity nanocomposite. Other applications for this technology are consumer electronics, automobile components such as brake systems, drill bits, mining equipment, and corrosion-resistant coatings. Click HERE to find out more.

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Custom 3D Printers Revolutionize the Space Supply Chain

Additive manufacturing technology could enable future astronauts to build any part or piece needed on long-duration missions. A spaceflight crew has to bring with it everything it will need over the course of its journey. In space travel, not only is payload capacity at a premium, but objects carried into space also must be made to withstand the g-force and jarring vibrations of liftoff.

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Electrical Connectors Provide Signal Integrity for Orion

KA Series PCB connectors and D-Sub Series connectors Smiths Connectors Costa Mesa, CA 714-371-1100 www.smithsconnectors.com Development of NASA’s Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle was a complex undertaking involving a vast number of subcontractors across multiple technology disciplines. Smiths Connectors was selected by Lockheed Martin, NASA’s prime contractor, to provide space-grade connectors with the proven capability to perform in the harsh environment of deep space missions.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Articles

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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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Physicist Develops New Laser Technique to Study Electronic Properties

It’s often said that necessity is the mother of invention. Such was the case for Ames Laboratory physicist Adam Kaminski who took a challenge he was facing and turned it into a new solution that will help advance his research. 

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Theory Turns into Reality for Nonlinear Optical Metamaterials

A research team has realized one of the long-standing theoretical predictions in nonlinear optical metamaterials: creation of a nonlinear material that has opposite refractive indices at the fundamental and harmonic frequencies of light. Such a material, which doesn’t exist naturally, had been predicted for nearly a decade.

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IonoSTAGE Ensures Accuracy of Pilots’ GPS

FAA software relies on NASA-developed programs to help pilots avoid ionospheric storms. To permit safe and reliable aircraft navigation over North America using the Global Positioning System (GPS), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has developed the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS), which improves the accuracy, availability, continuity, and integrity of GPS positioning enough to ensure its safe use by pilots to determine their locations. The early development of WAAS relied on software developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL); particularly, the GPS-Inferred Positioning System (GIPSY) and the Global Ionospheric Mapping (GIM) software packages. More recently, the continued development of WAAS has relied on companion software also developed at JPL. The SuperTruth and IonoSTAGE packages allow the system to address the threat to accurate positioning posed by code delays and phase advances due to refraction in Earth’s ionosphere.

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