Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Pneumatic Conveying of Lunar Regolith Simulant

Closed-loop conveying may be desirable in terrestrial applications where the motive gas is scarce or expensive, such as helium. John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida Planetary regolith (dust) is an aggregation of various minerals and different particle sizes. Collection, storage, processing, and disposal of this material are very challenging in the harsh planetary environment. Extraterrestrial operations involving In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) require conveying of regolith. The regolith needs to be transported from the planetary surface to chemical/thermal reaction vessels, and spent (processed) regolith needs to be conveyed to a disposal area.

Posted in: Briefs

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Low-Cost, Portable Platform for Mounting Multiple Antennas for Automatic UAV Tracking

This continuous-rotation platform holds ~60 pounds of antennas to track any line-of-sight object carrying multiple radio frequency sources. Armstrong Flight Research Center, Edwards, California Researchers at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center have developed an innovative antenna-mounting platform that addresses an unmet need in the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) market.

Posted in: Briefs

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DC Transformer

This transformer can fill a role in which DC conversion potential, coupled with power filtering/storage capability, is required in high-DC power transmission. John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida A component-level DC transformer was developed in which no alternating currents or voltages are present. It operates by combining features of a homopolar motor and a homopolar generator, both DC devices, such that the output voltage of a DC power supply can be stepped up (or down) with a corresponding step down (or up) in current. The DC transformer should be scalable to low-megawatt levels, but is more suited to high-current than high-voltage applications.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Wallops Flight Facility 6U Advanced CubeSat Ejector (ACE)

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland Six-unit (6U) CubeSats are recognized as the next nanosatellite to be considered for standardization. The CubeSat standard established by California Polytechnic University (Cal Poly), which applies to 1U–3U sizes, has proven to be a valuable asset to the community. It has both provided design guidelines to CubeSat developers and a consistent, low-risk interface to launch service providers. This has ultimately led to more flight opportunities for CubeSats. A similar path is desired for the 6U CubeSat. Through this process of standardization, a consistent, low-risk interface for the 6U needs to be established.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Improved Attachment Design for Ceramic Turbine Blades Via Hybrid Concepts

This approach facilitates increased precision and ease of handling the blades during assembly. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio This innovation is a hybrid metal-ceramic matrix composite (CMC) turbine blade in which a SiC/SiC CMC airfoil section is bonded to a single-crystal superalloy root section in order to mitigate risks associated with an all-CMC blade inserted in a superalloy disk. This will allow current blade attachment technology (SX blade with a dovetail attachment to a slotted Ni disk) to be used with a ceramic airfoil. The bond between the CMC and single crystal will be primarily mechanical in nature, and enhance with clamping arising from thermal expansion mismatch. Two single-crystal root sections will be bonded to each other using diffusion bonding at temperatures near 1,200 °C. The single crystals will form a clamshell around the CMC, with little or no gap between the metal and ceramic. Upon cooling, the metal will shrink around the CMC to firmly clamp it. It is envisioned that this will allow the blade root to operate at temperatures up to about 800 °C. Single crystals will resist stress relaxation at this temperature, thus maintaining clamping loads for long lives. The hybrid concept plus the method of manufacture is new technology.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Powdered Copper Cryogenic Heat Exchanger

This technology provides a high level of thermal performance while dramatically simplifying the chore of determining safety factors. John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida This work involved designing a liquid nitrogen cold-plate heat exchanger with a high thermal mass using code-standard, high-pressure tubing. High thermal mass requires a substantial amount of material, so heat exchangers of this type are usually fabricated from a solid piece of metal (such as copper) with fluid paths machined into the component. However, standard tubing was desired for the fluid path due to its pressure rating and predictability. The key problem was how to embed copper tubing into a larger mass while maintaining good heat transfer properties.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Diminutive Assembly for Nanosatellite deploYables (DANY) Miniature Release Mechanism

New deployment mechanism offers improved reliability with minimum space and weight penalty. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland CubeSat appendices such as solar panels and antennas often need to be constrained by a release mechanism during launch. These appendices are then deployed once the desired orbit is reached. The usual constraint method used is a combination of an unpredictable/ unreliable fishing line and burning wire. If a proper release mechanism is used, it utilizes a considerable amount of CubeSat internal space, making the internal packaging of the satellite more difficult. These two methods have adverse effects on CubeSat performance.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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