A device denoted as a bumper assembly for a spacecraft payload container comprises an interior structure surrounded by skin or some other protective enclosure (see figure). When arranged with three or more like assemblies, this bumper assembly is designed to secure the interior structure within a payload's protective enclosure during the stresses endured in flight and, if required, recovery of the payload. Furthermore, proper use of this innovation facilitates the ability of designers and engineers to maximize the total placement area for components, thus increasing utilization of very valuable and limited space.

ImageTypically, the interior structure includes substantially circular decks nominally orthogonal to and centered on the cylindrical axis with the decks connected by axial columns. At one end of the cylinder, the interior structure is attached to the skin by use of fasteners. At other locations, the column portions of the interior structure are connected to the cylindrical skin via four bumper assemblies. The bumper assemblies provide lateral, (that is, radial and circumferential) support while allowing sliding parallel to the cylindrical axis to accommodate axial expansion and contraction. The shape of the interior structure can be varied from the stated "typical" one. The attachment of the end of any interior structure to a protective enclosure, while placing the bumper assemblies in a radial symmetric pattern on the structure's other end, would allow similar support during the process of positioning and securing the bumper assemblies.

Each bumper assembly includes two mating wedges held together by a bolt. The bolt is inserted through a clearance hole in one wedge to engage a threaded hole in the other wedge. The positioning and securing of the interior structure can be adjusted by turning the bolt to slide the wedges along their mating sloped surfaces. This arrangement of the interior structure is accomplished from the structure's outside area and does not require access holes or surfaces machined within its protective enclosure to achieve that accessibility. This accessibility minimizes the time needed to finish the securing of the interior structure within a payload's protective enclosure.

This work was done by Orville N. Fleming, Jr., of Northrop Grumman Corp. for Goddard Space Flight Center. For further information, access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Mechanics category. GSC-14991-1

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

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

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