Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Hydraulic High-Pressure Valve Controller Using the In Situ Pressure Difference

This technology is applicable to any system or device requiring high-pressure-differential valves. Various applications exist where high-pressure valves are required, but the problem for control of such valves lies in that they have to move against a strong pressure differential that may require significant force, energy, and large actuators. The solution to this problem is to take advantage of the in situ pressure differential to operate valves by opening small valves to change the pressure on either chamber of a hydraulic cylinder that is connected to the valve’s moving element.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Mechanics, Parts, Hydraulic systems


Safely Testing Parachute-Based Extraction Systems

Functional testing can be conducted under a wide range of performance parameters. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas This invention relates to the safe, reliable, and repeatable testing under external load of the Extraction Force Transfer Coupling (EFTC) currently used in the extraction of airdrop platforms from both the C-17 and C-130 cargo transport aircraft. The invention enables functional testing of the EFTC at various loading angles and load magnitudes, as well as in different hardware configurations, to verify its performance in both nominal and off-nominal extraction scenarios.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Safety testing and procedures, Freighter aircraft


Hybrid Gear

This gear can transfer the same level of torque as an all-metallic gear, but with lower weight and modified vibration/noise. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio Reducing stiffness-induced gear noise and making lighter-weight gearing components would be a substantial advantage over the current all-metallic configuration. The use of composites to join metallic hubs to the metallic gear rim would reduce manufacturing costs of large aerospace gears, with weight reductions and modified noise/vibration response. All-metallic gearing components do little to dampen the gear meshing noise induced by the nonlinear tooth stiffness during the meshing process. With a composite web, this metallic path for vibration and noise transfer would be eliminated and alter the resultant transmitted noise/vibration.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Composite materials, Noise, Vibration, Parts


Hovercraft Landing System

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California A concept for recovering reusable spacecraft or capsules, or reusable rocket boosters, has them land on an airbag-based, cushioned platform positioned on a highly maneuverable hovercraft. This landing method would have performance advantages over conventional approaches to reusability by placing most of the landing function on the hovercraft while maintaining the safety benefit of an open ocean landing away from populated areas; however, it would be similar to a dry landing as the spacecraft or booster would not enter the water.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Mechanics, Spacecraft


Novel Catalytic Reactor System for CO2 Reduction via Sabatier Process

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama A novel, short-contact-time Microlith Sabatier reactor system for CO2 reduction offers a significant advance in support of manned spaceflight. Compared to the current and prospective alternatives (including microchannels), the reactor is much smaller and lighter, more energy and resource efficient, and more durable. In the spacecraft cabin atmosphere revitalization system (ARS), the utilization of CO2 to produce life support consumables such as O2 and H2O, via the Sabatier process as part of the CO2 Reduction Assembly (CRA), is an important function. This innovation is an integrated, stand-alone system consisting of a Microlith-based CO2 methanation reactor, water separation and recovery system, and automatic control software for ground demonstration. The system efficiently achieves high CO2 conversion and high CH4 selectivity for optimum water generation. The apparatus is capable of operating at high throughput while maintaining targeted performance of close-to-equilibrium CO2 conversion. The specific mass and volume of the reactor are much lower compared to the state-of-the-art metrics. H2 and CO2 (reactants) enter the system, and their flow rates are automatically controlled. The catalyst within the reactor promotes the conversion of the reactants to H2O and CH4. Since the reaction is exothermic, a thermal management approach is implemented to maintain reactor operating temperature and to avoid catalyst deactivation. The product H2O is separated from the CH4 via a condenser and separator system to provide two single-phase product streams. This innovation utilizes a novel thermal management approach to enable self-sustained operation without additional power requirements. A full support system including mass flow controllers, valves, heat exchanger, and water condensation and separation system was developed. The reactor and system were integrated with a newly developed automatic control system that enables single pushbutton start and steady-state operation with minimal user interface. This work was performed by Christian Junaedi and Kyle Hawley of Precision Combustion, Inc. for Marshall Space Flight Center. For more information, contact Ronald C. Darty, Licensing Executive in the MSFC Technology Transfer Office, at Refer to MFS-33063-1.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Carbon dioxide, Spacecraft


Technology for a Comet Sample Return Mission Version 2

Harpoon-based sample collectors with rectangular cross-sections are regarded as the best candidates. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland A standoff sample collection system would be capable of quickly obtaining a sample from environments as varied as comets, asteroids, and permanently shadowed craters on the Moon from vehicles ranging from traditional planetary spacecraft to platforms such as hovering rotorcraft or balloons at Mars, Venus, or Titan. The depth of penetration for this harpoon-based hollow collector design was experimentally determined to be proportional to the momentum of the penetrator, in agreement with earlier work on the penetration of solid projectiles. A release mechanism for the internal, removable sample cartridge was tested, as was an automatic closure system for the sample canister and tether recovery approaches.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Test equipment and instrumentation, Spacecraft


Nitrous Oxide Ethane-Ethylene Engine

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama The Nitrous Oxide Ethylene-Ethane (NEE) engine uses nitrous oxide as an autogenously pressurizing oxidizer, and a mixture of ethane and ethylene is used in the same manner as fuel. Initially, the ethane and ethylene mixture has the same vapor pressure as the nitrous oxide. By using the autogenous pressurization capabilities of these propellants, instead of an additional pressurization system, greater system simplicity and reliability can be attained. The NEE can obtain a specific impulse of 320 s, making it the highest-performing, non-toxic, storable bipropellant rocket propulsion system in existence at the time of this reporting.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components, Propellants, Spacecraft fuel, Rocket engines


The U.S. Government does not endorse any commercial product, process, or activity identified on this web site.