Mechanical Components

Predicting Tail Buffet Loads of a Fighter Airplane

Airframes can be designed to be more robust. Buffet loads on aft aerodynamic surfaces pose a recurring problem on most twin-tailed fighter airplanes: During maneuvers at high angles of attack, vortices emanating from various surfaces on the forward parts of such an airplane engine inlets, wings, or other fuselage appendages) often burst, immersing the tails in their wakes. Although these vortices increase lift, the frequency contents of the burst vortices become so low as to cause the aft surfaces to vibrate destructively.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs

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Periodically Discharging, Gas-Coalescing Filter

In effect, small bubbles would be made to coalesce into very large ones. A proposed device would remove bubbles of gas from a stream of liquid (typically water), accumulate the gas, and periodically release the gas, in bulk, back into the stream. The device is intended for use in a flow system (1) in which there is a requirement to supply bubble-free water to a downstream subsystem and (2) that includes a sensor and valves, just upstream of the subsystem, for sensing bubbles and diverting the flow from the subsystem until the water stream is again free of bubbles. By coalescing the gas bubbles and then periodically releasing the accumulated gas, the proposed device would not contribute to net removal of gas from the liquid stream; nevertheless, it would afford an advantage by reducing the frequency with which the diverter valves would have to be activated.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs

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Large Deployable Reflectarray Antenna

A report discusses a 7-meter-diameter reflectarray antenna that has been conceived in a continuing effort to develop large reflectarray antennas to be deployed in outer space. Major underlying concepts were reported in three prior NASA Tech Briefs articles: “Inflatable Reflectarray Antennas” (NPO-20433), Vol. 23, No. 10 (October 1999), page 50; “Tape-Spring Reinforcements for Inflatable Structural Tubes” (NPO- 20615), Vol. 24, No. 7 (July 2000), page 58; and “Self-Inflatable/Self-Rigidizable Reflectarray Antenna” (NPO-30662), Vol. 28, No. 1 (January 2004), page 61. Like previous antennas in the series, the antenna now proposed would include a reflectarray membrane stretched flat on a frame of multiple inflatable booms. The membrane and booms would be rolled up and folded for compact stowage during transport. Deployment in outer space would be effected by inflating the booms to unroll and then to unfold the membrane, thereby stretching the membrane out flat to its full size. The membrane would achieve the flatness for a Ka-band application. The report gives considerable emphasis to designing the booms to rigidify themselves upon deployment: for this purpose, the booms could be made as spring-tape-reinforced aluminum laminate tubes like those described in two of the cited prior articles.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP

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Buckling and Fracture Analysis of Composite Skin-Stringer Panel Using VCCT and FEA Software

New finite element analysis simulation capabilities predict crack propagation in composites. In the continuing goal of developing products with better performance at a lower cost, composites are becoming increasingly prevalent in the aerospace industry. Composite structures offer exceptional performance due to their high strength at a low weight. Additionally, one large integrated composite component can replace ten or more traditional metal parts, dramatically reducing manufacturing costs. For the first time in the aviation industry, companies are beginning to use composites for primary load-bearing components. Boeing announced that the new 787 aircraft will be the first airliner to use composite materials in the majority of the aircraft construction.

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Compact, Precise Inertial Rotation Sensors for Spacecraft

A document describes a concept for an inertial sensor for measuring the rotation of an inertially stable spacecraft around its center of gravity to within 100 microarc- seconds or possibly even higher precision. Whereas a current proposal for a spacecraft-rotation sensor of this accuracy requires one spacecraft dimension on the order of ten meters, a sensor according to this proposal could fit within a package smaller than 1 meter and would have less than a tenth of the mass. According to the concept, an inertial mass and an apparatus for monitoring the mass would be placed at some known distance from the center of gravity so that any rotation of the spacecraft would cause relative motion between the mass and the spacecraft. The relative motion would be measured and, once the displacement of the mass exceeded a prescribed range, a precisely monitored restoring force would be applied to return the mass to a predetermined position. Measurements of the relative motion and restoring force would provide information on changes in the attitude of the spacecraft. A history of relative- motion and restoring-force measurements could be kept, enabling determination of the cumulative change in attitude during the observation time.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP

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Lunar Constellation of Frozen Elliptical Inclined Orbits

A document discusses the design of orbits of spacecraft for relaying communications between Earth stations and robotic and human explorers in craters in one of the polar regions on the Moon. In simplest terms, the basic problem is to design a constellation of orbits to provide continuous and preferably redundant communication coverage of one of the poles with a minimal number of spacecraft and little or no controlled maneuvering of the spacecraft to maintain the orbits. The design method involves the use of analytical techniques for initial selection of orbits, followed by a numerical procedure for tuning the coverage of the constellation to obtain a design. In an example application, the method leads to a constellation of three spacecraft having elliptical, inclined orbits, the apoapsides of which would remain in the hemisphere (North or South) containing the pole of interest. The orbits would be stable and would maintain the required spacecraft formation for at least 10 years, without need for controlled maneuvering if gravitation is the only force considered to affect the orbits. A small amount of controlled maneuvering would be needed to counteract effects of solar-radiation pressure and other perturbations.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs

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Stochastic Representation of Chaos Using Terminal Attractors

Fictitious control forces stabilize what would otherwise be unstable computed trajectories. A nonlinear version of the Liouville equation based on terminal attractors is part of a mathematical formalism for describing postinstability motions of dynamical systems characterized by exponential divergences of trajectories leading to chaos (including turbulence as a form of chaos). The formalism can be applied to both conservative systems (e.g., multibody systems in celestial mechanics) and dissipative systems (e.g., viscous fluids).

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs

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