NASA has contracted ADC USA to design and build an Experimental Test Range (ETR) Positioning System that consists of positioning components for a state-of-the-art Radar Cross Section (RCS) and Antenna Measurement compact range chamber facility located at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA.

The Experimental Test Range is a system designed for performing antenna and electromagnetic scattering measurements. It utilizes a test chamber with the absorber type and placement selected for optimum performance, turnkey control instrumentation for fast and efficient data collection and processing, and a bridge crane for efficient model handling. Major components of the system include a rail positioning system that is used for transporting models from the prep area into the test area. Total travel for the range is 111 feet, with a positioning accuracy of ±0.05 inches within the ±10 feet surrounding the test position.

Four major rail positioning system components (RPSCs) are provided: RCS pylon with 4:1 ogival ratio with compatibility for azimuth rotator or pitch rotator tips; an antenna positioner consisting of a model tower and offset-slide assembly mounted to an Azimuth-over-Elevation positioner; a universal positioner for mounting different-sized foam columns attached to azimuth rotators; and a string reel positioning system with 1- inch positioning accuracy within a 40 x 40 x 25-foot space. The RPSCs have capability to be controlled remotely or from a control station within the model prep area.

Positioning system
Lansing, MI

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NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the January, 2014 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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