Mechanical Components

Mirrors Containing Biomimetic Shape-Control Actuators

Local bending would be controlled to obtain desired surface figures. Curved mirrors of a proposed type would comprise lightweight sheets or films containing integral, biologically inspired actuators for controlling their surface figures. These mirrors could be useful in such applications as collection of solar energy, focusing of radio beams, and (provided sufficient precision could be achieved) imaging. These mirrors were originally intended for use in outer space, but it should also be possible to develop terrestrial versions.

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Flight Tests of a Ministick Controller in an F/A-18 Airplane

Pilots' opinions were generally favorable. In March of 1999, five pilots performed flight tests to evaluate the handling qualities of an F/A-18 research airplane equipped with a small-displacement center stick (ministick) controller that had been developed for the JAS 39 Gripen airplane (a fighter/attack/ reconnaissance airplane used by the Swedish air force). For these tests, the ministick was installed in the aft cockpit (see figure) and production support flight control computers (PSFCCs) were used as interfaces between the controller hardware and the standard F/A-18 flight-control laws.

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Piezoelectrically Actuated Shutter for High Vacuum

This vacuum-compatible shutter generates an acceptably small magnetic field. A piezoelectrically actuated shutter is undergoing development for use in experiments on laser cooling of atoms. The shutter is required to be compatible with ultrahigh vacuum [pressure of 10-9 torr (≈1.3 X 10-7 Pa) or less] and to be capable of performing reliably in the vacuum for at least one year. In operation, the shutter would enable the collection and launch of successive samples of cold atoms and would enable the interrogation of the immediately preceding sample while preventing disturbance of the atoms of that sample by light from the collection region.

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Tool for Bending a Metal Tube Precisely in a Confined Space

This tool offers capabilities that prior tools do not. A relatively simple, manually operated tool enables precise bending (typically, within ±1/2° of the specified bend angle) of a metal tube located in a confined space, with a minimum of flattening of the tube and without significant gouging of the tube surface. The tool is designed for use in a situation in which the tube cannot be removed from the confined space for placement in a conventional bench- mounted tube bender. The tool is also designed for use in a situation in which previously available hand-held tube benders do not afford the required precision, do not support the tube wall sufficiently to prevent flattening or gouging, and/or do not fit within the confined space.

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Multiple-Use Mechanisms for Attachment to Seat Tracks

These could serve as standard or universal seat-track clamps. A Seat Track Attach Mechanism (SAM) is a multiple-use clamping device intended for use in mounting various objects on the standard seat tracks used on the International Space Station (ISS). The basic SAM design could also be adapted to other settings in which seat tracks are available: for example, SAM-like devices could be used as universal aircraft- seat-track mounting clamps.

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Force-Measuring Clamps

Clamping forces can be measured easily and quickly. Force-measuring clamps have been invented to facilitate and simplify the task of measuring the forces or pressures applied to clamped parts. There is a critical need to measure clamping forces or pressures in some applications — for example, while bonding sensors to substrates or while clamping any sensitive or delicate parts. Many manufacturers of adhesives and sensors recommend clamping at specific pressures while bonding sensors or during adhesive bonding between parts in general.

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Cellular Pressure-Actuated Joint

Pockets in one of the sealing members would help maintain differential pressure. A modification of a pressure-actuated joint has been proposed to improve its pressure actuation in such a manner as to reduce the potential for leakage of the pressurizing fluid. The specific joint for which the modification is proposed is a field joint in a reusable solid-fuel rocket motor (RSRM), in which the pressurizing fluid is a mixture of hot combustion gases. The proposed modification could also be applicable to other pressure- actuated joints of similar configuration.

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