Tech Briefs

Utilizing Expert Knowledge in Estimating Future STS Costs

A method of estimating the costs of future space transportation systems (STSs) involves classical activity-based cost (ABC) modeling combined with systematic utilization of the knowledge and opinions of experts to extend the process-flow knowledge of existing systems to systems that involve new materials and/or new architectures. The expert knowledge is particularly helpful in filling gaps that arise in computational models of processes because of inconsistencies in historical cost data. Heretofore, the costs of planned STSs have been estimated following a "top-down" approach that tends to force the architectures of new systems to incorporate process flows like those of the space shuttles. In this ABC-based method, one makes assumptions about the processes, but otherwise follows a "bottoms up" approach that does not force the new system architecture to incorporate a space-shuttle-like process flow. Prototype software has been developed to implement this method. Through further development of software, it should be possible to extend the method beyond the space program to almost any setting in which there is a need to estimate the costs of a new system and to extend the applicable knowledge base in order to make the estimate.

Posted in: Briefs, Information Sciences

Read More >>

More About the Phase-Synchroized Enhancement Method

A report presents further details regarding the subject matter of "Phase-Synchronized Enhancement Method for Engine Diagnostics" (MFS-26435), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 22, No. 1 (January 1998), page 54. To recapitulate: The phase-synchronized enhancement method (PSEM) involves the digital resampling of a quasi-periodic signal in synchronism with the instantaneous phase of one of its spectral components. This resampling transforms the quasi-periodic signal into a periodic one more amenable to analysis. It is particularly useful for diagnosis of a rotating machine through analysis of vibration spectra that include components at the fundamental and harmonics of a slightly fluctuating rotation frequency. The report discusses the machinery-signal-analysis problem, outlines the PSEM algorithms, presents the mathematical basis of the PSEM, and presents examples of application of the PSEM in some computational simulations.

Posted in: Briefs, Information Sciences

Read More >>

Elastomer Filled With Single-Wall Carbon Nanotubes

Strength and stiffness increase with SWNT content. Experiments have shown that composites of a silicone elastomer with single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) are significantly stronger and stiffer than is the unfilled elastomer. The large strengthening and stiffening effect observed in these experiments stands in contrast to the much smaller strengthening effect observed in related prior efforts to reinforce epoxies with SWNTs and to reinforce a variety of polymers with multiple-wall carbon nanotubes (MWNTs). The relative largeness of the effect in the case of the silicone-elastomer/SWNT composites appears to be attributable to (1) a better match between the ductility of the fibers and the elasticity of the matrix and (2) the greater tensile strengths of SWNTs, relative to MWNTs.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Materials

Read More >>

Study of Rapid-Regression Liquefying Hybrid Rocket Fuels

A report describes experiments directed toward the development of paraffin-based hybrid rocket fuels that burn at regression rates greater than those of conventional hybrid rocket fuels like hydroxyl-terminated butadiene. The basic approach followed in this development is to use materials such that a hydrodynamically unstable liquid layer forms on the melting surface of a burning fuel body. Entrainment of droplets from the liquid/gas interface can substantially increase the rate of fuel mass transfer, leading to surface regression faster than can be achieved using conventional fuels. The higher regression rate eliminates the need for the complex multi-port grain structures of conventional solid rocket fuels, making it possible to obtain acceptable performance from single-port structures. The high-regression-rate fuels contain no toxic or otherwise hazardous components and can be shipped commercially as non-hazardous commodities. Among the experiments performed on these fuels were scale-up tests using gaseous oxygen. The data from these tests were found to agree with data from small-scale, low-pressure and low-mass-flux laboratory tests and to confirm the expectation that these fuels would burn at high regression rates, chamber pressures, and mass fluxes representative of full-scale rocket motors.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Materials

Read More >>

Readout of DSN Monitor Data

DSN Monitor Data Reader is a computer program that, as its name suggests, reads file of monitor data from the Deep Space Network (DSN). The monitor data constitute information on the status and performance of tracking, telemetry, command, and pointing equipment at the DSN antennas. The DSN has recently introduced a new, more advanced monitor data format, denoted 0158-Mon, that is based on the standard formatted data unit (SFDU) and compressed header data objects (CHDO) of the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS). The 0158-Mon data format is a very flexible generic format that provides for specific variable-length formats and for self-identifying parameters that obviate the proprietary NASA Communications (NASCOM) bit-packed formats of the past. The monitor data SFDUs are also encapsulated in Standard DSN Blocks and routed to DSN customers for processing at their local mission control centers. This program helps a DSN customer to read and parse the monitor data to assess the statuses of the DSN stations in support of spacecraft flight operations.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software

Read More >>

Viewing ISS Data in Real Time via the Internet

EZStream is a computer program that enables authorized users at diverse terrestrial locations to view, in real time, data generated by scientific payloads aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The only computation/ communication resource needed for use of EZStream is a computer equipped with standard Web-browser software and a connection to the Internet. EZStream runs in conjunction with the TReK software, described in a prior NASA Tech Briefs article, that coordinates multiple streams of data for the ground communication system of the ISS. EZStream includes server components that interact with TReK within the ISS ground communication system and client components that reside in the users' remote computers. Once an authorized client has logged in, a server component of EZStream pulls the requested data from a TReK application-program interface and sends the data to the client. Future EZStream enhancements will include (1) extensions that enable the server to receive and process arbitrary data streams on its own and (2) a Web-based graphical-user-interface-building subprogram that enables a client who lacks programming expertise to create customized display Web pages.

Posted in: Briefs, Software

Read More >>

Software for Optimizing Quality Assurance of Other Software

Software assurance is the planned and systematic set of activities that ensures that software processes and products conform to requirements, standards, and procedures. Examples of such activities are the following: code inspections, unit tests, design reviews, performance analyses, construction of traceability matrices, etc. In practice, software development projects have only limited resources (e.g., schedule, budget, and availability of personnel) to cover the entire development effort, of which assurance is but a part. Projects must therefore select judiciously from among the possible assurance activities. At its heart, this can be viewed as an optimization problem; namely, to determine the allocation of limited resources (time, money, and personnel) to minimize risk or, alternatively, to minimize the resources needed to reduce risk to an acceptable level. The end result of the work reported here is a means to optimize quality-assurance processes used in developing software. This is achieved by combining two prior programs in an innovative manner:

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Software

Read More >>

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