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: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Affordable Vehicle Avionics (AVA)

NASA Ames Research Center has developed a novel, low-cost, self-contained guidance system for small payload operators. Small satellites are becoming ever more capable of performing valuable missions for both...

Does less nitrogen oxide mean more particulate emissions? A reader asks our expert.

Large-scale liquid rocket engines with regeneratively cooled nozzles will enable reliable and reduced-cost access to space. The coolant that circulates through the internal...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Variable Bypass Turbofan Engine

Many aircraft need to operate efficiently at more than one flight regime; for example, certain airframes are expected to perform in relatively high-speed cruise modes, as well as slower loitering scenarios. Unfortunately, an engine operates most efficiently when the exit velocity closely matches the speed of the...

Briefs: Materials
New Methods in Preparing and Purifying Nanomaterials

Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have made several breakthroughs in treating hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) nanomaterials, improving their properties to supplant carbon nanotubes in many applications. These inventors have greatly enhanced the processes of intercalation and...

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a novel aircraft design that can carry 150+ passengers over a range of 3,500 nautical miles. Key features include a turboelectric propulsion system, twin...

Question of the Week: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Can a Harpoon Help with Space Clean-Up?

Once released from the International Space Station, the "RemoveDEBRIS" spacecraft will facilitate four demonstrations. One of the ideas: A harpoon. During the scheduled RemoveDEBRIS demo, the spear will be aimed at a target plate made of representative satellite materials.

Question of the Week: Robotics, Automation & Control
Will 'jet-powered' feet support search-and-rescue applications?

Tech Briefs TV this week featured research from the Guangdong University of Technology in China: A team of engineers developed a ducted-fan propulsion system that drives the legs of a bipedal robot. Watch the video, and let us know what you think.

Podcasts: Aerospace
Here's an Idea: Rockets

On a snowy day in 1926, a physicist named Robert Goddard set out to his Aunt Effie's ranch. What happened next was not your typical day on the farm – Goddard launched the first liquid-propellant rocket.

A “RemoveDEBRIS” satellite set to launch today will demonstrate new ideas for clearing out space junk near the International Space Station.
Briefs: Energy
Aluminum as a Fuel

Batteries and combustion engines each have distinctive benefits and limitations. Batteries have simple construction and operate silently; however, their energy density (i.e., the energy per unit volume) is poor, and...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Robotic Gripper for Satellite Capture and Servicing

The robotic gripper was developed at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center as part of a robotic satellite servicing mission. The gripping device can be used to autonomously or remotely grasp and...

Briefs: Propulsion
Thruster-Based Attitude and Translation Control with Minimum Pulse-Count Disturbance Rejection

Thruster-based control typically requires a substantial engineering effort in order to mitigate an important issue: the control system tends to use many thruster pulses to accomplish what a single thruster pulse could do instead. This fundamental...

Briefs: Aerospace
Axial Magnetic Flux Airflow Integrated Compressor-Generator-Motor Turbojet Design

Innovators at the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center have developed a compressor-generator-motor turbojet design concept that integrates the generator with the aerodynamic blade structures of the compression section of turbomachinery. This reduces weight and...

Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed a variable-frequency, alternating current (AC) power system to enable turbo-electric and hybrid electric...

Briefs: Propulsion
Non-Catalytic Ignition System for High-Performance Advanced Monopropellant Thrusters

Anon-catalytic pyrotechnic ignition system was developed for advanced green monopropellant systems operating with hydroxylammonium nitrate (HAN)-based monopropellant AF-M315E. This technology will provide increased performance and new operating regimes for...

Scientists have an idea to deflect Earth-bound asteroids: a 9-meter-tall, 8.8-ton spacecraft dubbed the HAMMER.

The advent of cryocooler technology ushers in an era where a cryogenic environment is created and maintained locally. It is no longer necessary to transport cryogen from a factory where it is produced to the...

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is building a small CubeSat that uses an 85-m2 solar sail deployed from a central location to capture the push of photons...

NASA is preparing for the next generation of CubeSats that are propelled and will make directional maneuvers. The new gimbal mount provides a seat for the motor, and controls the position of the...

Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
SolidSense: Gas Analyzer on a Chip

The SolidSense sensor platform measures all EPA-regulated gas emissions (nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons), in addition to ammonia, with high accuracy and sensitivity. The chip-scale gas...

Is the future electric? A reader asks an expert from Mercedes-Benz.
If you ask engineers about their early days, many can't avoid talking about a favorite toy: the model rocket.

At Orbital ATK, Mark Ogren works on the preliminary design of the company’s propulsion technologies, including targets, interceptors, or space launch vehicles. Ogren spoke with Tech...

On a snowy day in 1926, a 44-year-old physicist named Robert Goddard went with his wife Esther and some colleagues to his Aunt Effie’s ranch in Auburn,...

Today's vehicles feature traditional internal combustion engines, hybrid, plugin, and electric drivetrains. A reader asks: "Which power-plant choice will take the lead in...

Briefs: Propulsion
Wireless Ultrasonic Inspection Propulsion System

During inspection of pressure vessels and other large structures, an industry-accepted fixture is used to hold the search unit a predetermined distance from the area of interest under inspection. This fixture is then moved manually around the area of interest so that data can be collected and...

Putting a satellite into low Earth orbit requires a lot of energy, with ground-launched rockets expending two-thirds of their propellant fighting to get...

Briefs: Propulsion
Multi-Pulse Motor (MPM) for Use with Electric Solid Propellants (ESP)

The purpose of this work was to create a safe, green, controllable solid rocket motor that can be pulsed a number of times with electricity to control the ignition and extinguishment times to produce a required thrust or impulse bit. The innovation features an Electric Solid...

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