Mechanical Components

Shipping Foam Designer Software

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas An easy-to-use design tool was developed in response to a large number of documented cases of critical (flight and ground) hardware failing after experiencing drops during commercial shipment. By entering the mass of the hardware to be protected, and the drop height, the software helps the user select the type and dimensions of the shock attenuating foam needed. Hundreds of drop tests were conducted with metal plates instrumented with accelerometers that were protected by common shipping foams of different thicknesses, along with foam compression tests conducted at various speeds to develop mathematical material models for these foams. The foam drops were video recorded at a very high rate of speed to capture foam deformation due to drop.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Software, Briefs

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Evolutionary Mission Trajectory Generator

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland The Evolutionary Mission Trajectory Generator (EMTG) is a global trajectory optimization tool for designing interplanetary missions that perform multiple flybys and either low-thrust or high-thrust propulsive maneuvers on the way to destinations in the solar system. Some targets, such as Mars and Venus, are reachable using direct flights with chemical propulsion technology. Others, such as Mercury, main-belt asteroids, and comets are not easily accessible. One way to mitigate this problem is by using more efficient propulsion systems, such as low-thrust solar electric propulsion. Another is to find more efficient paths to the destination, possibly including gravity assist maneuvers, or planetary flybys.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Software, Briefs

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Visual International Space Station Configuration Viewing Tool

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas Communicating the current International Space Station (ISS) configuration and also potential ISS configurations is a necessity during ISS trade studies and Ops Con development. Often, multiple configuration options will need to be communicated. Doing so without a means of displaying an image of the description can be very confusing. Historically, visual information needed for presentations and meetings was conveyed using still images or pre-generated videos. This form of information provides only a single view, and it is not always at the optimum location.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Software, Briefs

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Two-Equation Turbulence Models for Application to Internal Flow Through Pneumatic Valves

Applications include design, analysis, and optimization of valves and pumps. John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida Predicting turbulent flowfield and pressure drop in complex internal flows, such as valves, pumps, and turbines, is of great interest in many areas of technology. Accurate prediction of three-dimensional (3D) flowfield in complex devices is critically dependent on the accuracy of the turbulence model used to describe the turbulence energy production and dissipation processes within the flowfield region of interest.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Software, Briefs

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Researchers Develop Solar Technologies, Origami-Style

As a high school student at a study program in Japan, Brian Trease would fold wrappers from fast-food cheeseburgers into cranes. He loved discovering different origami techniques in library books.Today, Trease, a mechanical engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, thinks about how the principles of origami could be used for space-bound devices.Researchers say origami could be useful one day in utilizing space solar power for Earth-based purposes. Imagine an orbiting power plant that wirelessly beams power down to Earth using microwaves. Sending the solar arrays up to space would be easy, Trease said, because they could all be folded and packed into a single rocket launch, with "no astronaut assembly required."Panels used in space missions already incorporate simple folds, collapsing like a fan or an accordion. But Trease and colleagues are interested in using more intricate folds that simplify the overall mechanical structure and make for easier deployment.Last year, Zirbel and Trease collaborated with origami expert Robert Lang and BYU professor Larry Howell to develop a solar array that folds up to be 8.9 feet (2.7 meters) in diameter. Unfold it, and you’ve got a structure 82 feet (25 meters) across.SourceAlso: Learn about Origami-Inspired Folding of Thick, Rigid Panels.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Solar Power, Renewable Energy, Energy Harvesting, Energy, Aerospace, RF & Microwave Electronics, Antennas, News

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Airbags Take the Weight in Load Tests of Aircraft

NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center’s Flight Loads Laboratory completed structural evaluations on a modified Gulfstream G-III aircraft that will serve as a test bed for the Adaptive Compliant Trailing Edge (ACTE) project. The loads tests assisted engineers in predicting the levels of structural stress the airplane will likely experience during ACTE research flights. And for the first time, some unusual hardware aided the process: the aircraft was supported by three large inflatable airbags during the tests.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Test & Measurement, Aerospace, Aviation, News

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Swan Seal

The seal can be sized to any application while maintaining its important features. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio This seal features dual sealing capabilities: a face seal and an axial seal. The name swan seal is derived from its cross section, which resembles a swan. Most injector designs require fuel to be delivered from an inlet fitting, through a feed arm, to the injector tip. Temperature variation from the inlet to the tip, from the cool fuel to hot combustion air, and from startup to full power, often poses a challenge due to thermal growth. One of the most challenging areas is accommodating the growth differential between a hot feed arm and a cool fuel delivery tube, which is exacerbated by the relatively long distance. Several methods have been used to allow for this including coiling the fuel tube, utilizing an O-ring sliding seal, metal C-seals, or incorporating stretchable bellows. Some of the drawbacks of these methods include limited space, poor durability at high temperatures, serviceability, long lead times, and cost. The swan seal presents a compact, high-temperature, replaceable, low-cost option for this and other applications where a sliding axial seal is required.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP

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