A report discusses a proposed system for mounting loaded pallets in the cargo bay of a next-generation space-shuttle-like spacecraft, such that the center of mass of the cargo would lie within a 1-in. (2.54- cm) cube that would also contain the center of mass of the spacecraft. The system would include (1) an algorithm for planning the locations of the pallets, given the geometric and weight properties of the pallets, and the geometric restrictions of the cargo bay; (2) quick-connect/ quick-disconnect mounting mechanisms similar to those now used on air hoses; (3) other mounting mechanisms, comprising mostly spring-loaded pins, in a locking subsystem that would prevent shifting of the pallets under load; and (4) mechanisms for performing fine position adjustments to satisfy the center-of-mass requirement. The position-adjusting mechanisms would be motor-driven lead-screw mechanisms in groups of three — one for positioning each pin of the locking subsystem along each of three mutually perpendicular coordinate axes. The system also would include a triple threaded screw that would provide compensation for thermal expansion or contraction of the spacecraft.

This work was done by Jon Holladay of Marshall Space Flight Center and Jonathan Colton of Georgia Institute of Technology. For further information, access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free online at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Machinery/Automation category. MFS-32069-1

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the March, 2006 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

Read more articles from the archives here.