Mechanical/​Mechatronics

Propulsion

Explore the key advances impacting propulsion technologies and applications involved in aircraft propulsion, turbo-electric distributed propulsion, and hybrid electric aircraft propulsion systems.

Briefs: Propulsion
Inductive Power Transfer for Spaceflight Systems

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center has developed technology that uses inductive power transfer (IPT) for wireless power interfaces between spaceflight elements (such as the payload, vehicle, and pad). Current spaceflight systems require traditional hardwire connections for power interfaces. This...

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The Moon is a treasure chest of science. The lunar samples returned during the Apollo program dramatically changed our view of the solar system, yet they just scratch the...

Articles: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11: On to Mars

Just 54 years ago, the first photograph of Mars from a passing spacecraft appeared to show a hazy atmosphere. Now, decades of exploration on the planet itself has shown it to be a...

Facility Focus: Materials
NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center

On September 1, 1961, NASA requested appropriations for initial land purchases on Merritt Island on Florida’s east coast to support the Apollo Lunar Landing Program. Designers quickly began developing...

For the first time in a generation, NASA is building a human spacecraft for deep-space missions that will usher in a new era of space...

On July 20, 1969, humans walked on another world for the first time in history. After a landing that included dodging a lunar crater and boulder...

Articles: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Pneumatics for Mechanical Motion

Employing fluid power to achieve mechanical motion can be implemented via hydraulics using uncompressible liquids or via pneumatics using compressible gasses; typically, air. The latter provides several...

Briefs: Motion Control
Double-Fed Induction Linear Alternator

This technology was developed to address the limitations of traditional, single-fed linear alternators that require permanent magnets, adhesive bonding organics, and heavy iron laminations for flux control. They experience eddy-current losses and require electromagnetic interference protection. Furthermore,...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Generating Electrical Power from Waste Heat

Directly converting electrical power to heat is easy; however, converting heat into electrical power is not as easy. To address this issue, a tiny silicon-based device was developed that can...

Briefs: Motion Control
Improved Directed Flux Motor

Electromagnetic motors typically convert electrical energy into rotational mechanical energy and are employed across a wide array of applications. While motors represent relatively mature technology, practitioners continue to seek ways to enhance motor operation including a decrease in cost, drop in size/weight,...

Special Reports: Automotive
Vehicle Electrification - June 2019

Demand for electric vehicles is accelerating, with several automakers announcing that their entire lineups will either be hybrid or all-electric by the 2020's. To help you keep pace with the rapid changes...

Blog: Electronics & Computers
AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2019: Helicopter Drones
Three new unmanned helicopters were unveiled at AUVSI’s XPONENTIAL show in Chicago.
A Navy Sea Glider can look for a target in mid-air or underwater.
As always, the Air Force Research Laboratory had a huge presence at AUVSI’s XPONENTIAL show in Chicago.

Founded on July 1, 1960, Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL is one of NASA’s largest field centers. Marshall engineers designed, built, tested, and helped launch the Saturn V...

NASA Spinoff: Lighting Technology
LED Lighting Improves Efficiency and Imaging

Rocket engine testing requires a lot of light since all tests are filmed with high-speed cameras to monitor performance; however, those cameras have to adjust to the bright plume from a firing...

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Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Transforming Flat Elastomers into 3D Shapes

Mechanical systems such as engines and motors rely on two principal types of motions of stiff components: linear motion, which involves an object moving from one point to another in a straight...

Making electric cars lighter also involves reducing the weight of the motor. One way to do that is by constructing it from fiber-reinforced polymer materials. A new cooling concept...

Recent technical advances have enabled flywheel energy storage systems (FESS) to become more compact and able to support higher-power applications. Due to their proven...

Spinoff is NASA’s annual publication featuring successfully commercialized NASA technology. This commercialization has contributed to the development of products and services in...

White Papers: Propulsion
Understanding Aeration

Aeration may seem friendly in a cup of coffee or soda, but it's deadly for powertrain components. All forms of aeration (air bubbles, foam and dissolved air) are harmful, especially in the context of hydraulic and...

An optical setup developed by researchers at Sandia's Combustion Research Facility and the Technical University of Denmark can now quantify the formation of soot — particulate matter consisting...

Briefs: Communications
Interoperable Intelligent Controllers for Process Management and Control Networks

NASA Johnson Space Center developed reprogrammable and interchangeable electronic controllers that can attach to a system or subsystem wirelessly or through plug-and-play capability. Originally designed to work with rocket engines, this technology can control...

Briefs: Aerospace
Green Electric Monopropellant (GEM)-Fueled Pulsed Plasma Thruster

NASA required a rocket thruster able to produce a number of pulses at high specific impulse at a relatively low voltage (~300 to 400V). The key problem was that existing propellants for liquid-fueled pulsed plasma thrusters (LPPTs) required high voltages to ablate and accelerate...

WCX™ World Congress Experience 2019 — presented by SAE International — is for forward-thinking engineers, executives, OEMs, suppliers, decision-makers, disruptors, and the entire spectrum of...

Briefs: Aerospace
Real-Time, Fuel-Optimal, Powered Descent Guidance Using Interpolated Time-of-Flight and Propellant Mass

Soft landing using rockets requires a trajectory to be planned for the lander from rocket ignition — typically several kilometers in altitude and moving at up to 200 m/s — to the point near the surface with near-zero velocity. The exact...

Briefs: Software
Small-Body Dynamics Toolkit Version 5.0

The Small-Body Dynamics Toolkit (SBDT) v5.0 is a collection of primitive-body-specific trajectory design and analysis tools written in MATLAB®. The SBDT gives the user the capabilities to propagate, analyze, and visualize spacecraft trajectories and the dynamical environment near realistic asteroid,...

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