A paper describes a demonstration of the X-38 bolt-retractor system (BRS) on a spacecraft-simulating apparatus, called the Large Mobility Base, in NASA Flight Robotics Laboratory (FRL). The BRS design was proven safe by testing in NASA Pyrotechnic Shock Facility (PSF) before being demonstrated in the FRL. The paper describes the BRS, FRL, PSF, and interface hardware. Information on the bolt-retraction time and spacecraft-simulator acceleration, and an analysis of forces, are presented. The purpose of the demonstration was to show the capability of the FRL for testing of the use of pyrotechnics to separate stages of a spacecraft. Although a formal test was not performed because of schedule and budget constraints, the data in the report show that the BRS is a successful design concept and the FRL is suitable for future separation tests.

This work was done by Nick Johnston, Rafiq Ahmed, Craig Garrison, Joseph Gaines, and Jason Waggoner of Marshall Space Flight Center.

To obtain a copy of the paper,"X-38 Bolt Retractor Subsystem Separation Demonstration," NASA/TM- 2002-212047, September 2002, access http://trs.nis.nasa.gov/archive/00000604. MFS-31874

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the September, 2004 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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