electrical and electronics
Inductive Power Transfer for Spaceflight Systems
The external support equipment includes a rectifier module, DC voltage regulator, and 208 Volt/480 Volt contactor or inverter for primary supply. The IPT device has no moving parts to wear out; the PSA's unit is encased in stainless steel. It is water and oil tight; and there is no maintenance required. The IPT transmitters/receivers are used for a wide-range of power interfaces, including (but not limited to): -Pad to launch vehicle -GSE to payload -Vehicle to payload -Payload carrier to deployable satellite -Launch vehicle stages -Space station elements -Space suit to suit "ports" -Power supplies and equipment deployed on extraterrestrial surfaces
Lightweight Energy Absorbing Composite Airframe Subfloor
This technology's conusoidal geometry is based on right-side-up and up-side down halfcones placed in an alternating and repeating pattern. This geometry combines a simple cone design with a sinusoidal beam geometry to create a structure that utilizes the advantages of both designs. The first major advantage of the conusoidal design is it provides crush trigger mechanisms due to dissimilar conical radii dimensions on the crash front. This is consistent with many energy absorbing (EA) designs which contain trigger mechanisms to limit the peak crush load and achieve acceptable crush initiation behavior. Second, because the conical walls are formed at an inward angle relative to the geometric centerline of each cone, the crushing is self-stabilizing. Finally, as the graphic below shows, the dissimilar radii create an inherent forward leaning angle, which offers advantages when examining loading conditions with a multi-axial component of loading. Many potential materials and layup combinations were candidates for the fabrication of the conusoidal EA. Specific interest was given to both the conventional and hybrid families of woven fabrics. Hybrid material systems consisting of carbon and aramid fibers were considered for use since they would potentially contain desirable characteristics that would serve as an advantage for energy absorbing performance. These material systems would offer both stiffness characteristics from the carbon fibers and deformation/ductility characteristics from the aramid fibers.
Wind-tunnel Force Measurement Calibration System
During wind-tunnel testing, a balance is used to obtain high-precision measurements of the aerodynamic loads on an aircraft model. Most balance calibrations are conducted in a laboratory environment, where most of the nuisance variables, such as temperature, electrical noise, vibrations, etc., can be controlled. When the instrumentation is transferred to the test environment, the nuisance variables change as well as the behavior of the system. To ensure that the calibration of the balance is still valid for the change in environment, validation checks are conducted in the wind tunnel. Currently, multi-component test environment validation checks are mechanically complex, introduce uncertainties in the applied loads, and are time consuming. This technology is designed to address the challenge of evaluating wind-tunnel model system performance during test preparation activities. ILS is based on the force-vector concept where a single deadweight load is used to apply up to six loads simultaneously through changing the orientation of the wind-tunnel model system relative to gravity. As the orientation of the force balance changes relative to gravity, the applied load vector that is produced imparts varying load combinations and magnitudes. During typical force-balance checkout, multiple-component loads are not applied although researchers and wind-tunnel customers expect these types of complex loadings during testing. In addition, axial force (aerodynamic drag), which is the aerodynamic component of highest interest, is rarely checked during the checkout process. ILS permits a more robust evaluation of the laboratory calibration during checkout as opposed to current approaches that are used. Furthermore, since the ILS uses a single load and the design is mechanically simpler than the current checkout hardware, many sources of systematic error are removed from the process.
NASA-427: A New Aluminum Alloy
The NASA-427 alloy, with its origins in the Ares rocket program, has high potential for use in a number of automotive applications, including cast aluminum wheels, control arms, steering knuckles, and other components. Why its Better This technology uses precise chemistry to improve the mechanical properties of cast aluminum products, which demonstrate substantial increases in impact toughness due to the improvement in tensile strength and ductility. The steps necessary to complete the thermal coating process proceed more quickly using this new alloy the heat treatment process is much shorter, and the aging process has been optimized in conjunction with the powder or paint-baked coating process. It also offers improved corrosion resistance meeting or exceeding the performance of A356-T6 alloy, as well as offering significant cost-savings over forging 6016-T6 alloy when elongation is less than seven percent. Because of its superior tensile strength coupled with significant process improvements, choosing NASA- 427 yields energy and cost savings for both the manufacturer of cast aluminum components and the end-user.
mechanical and fluid systems
Smallsat attitude control and energy storage
Reaction spheres technology operate on a physics similar to reaction wheels, which by the conservation of angular momentum uses a rotating flywheel to spin a body in the opposite direction. Sphere systems that utilize magnetic torqueing rather than mechanical are also smaller, are more reliable, have low friction losses, and have improved lifetime performance. The proposed reaction sphere provides improved performance over traditional wheels and satisfies the push for component miniaturization, increased pointing accuracy, and power efficiency on CubeSats. Primary aims are to develop a low-friction method to contain a sphere in spaceflight and determine the feasibility of on-orbit momentum storage to supplement battery power. With appropriate placement of permanent magnets, the sphere systems can generate relatively equal value of momentum and torques for any spin axis. This sphere at any speed, produces more momentum than the wheels, resulting in faster attitude stability.
Frequency Diversity Pulse Pair Algorithm for Mitigation of Radar Range-Doppler Ambiguity
This technology mitigates the Doppler ambiguity by creating an innovative frequency. This frequency diversity technique takes advantage of the recent development in digital waveform generation and digital receiver technologies by transmitting a pair of pulses (or more pulses) with slightly shifted center frequencies in each pulse repetition period. Radar return signals from these pulses can be separated by the digital filters implemented in the digital receiver. In Doppler radar operation, the maximum unambiguous range is determined by the radar transmission pulse repetition time. This unique frequency diversity technique is implemented by alternating the order of the pulse pair with center frequencies as f1, f2, and f2, f1, then integrate the phase estimates of f1/f2 pulse pair and f2/f1 pulse pair in equal numbers. This approach will cancel the phase shift as a function of range between the pulses to enable the retrieval of Doppler phase. Although this method is more advanced, it also has its inherent limits, such as increased phase error and increased complexity in radar hardware to transmit and receive dual polarized signals. Despite its faults, it is a step forward in the evolution of the Doppler radar and its growing applications.
Infrared Real-Time Pyrometer
This technology was developed by NASA engineers to test pyrotechnic initiated systems for stray current before the explosive material is loaded in the devices. This system provides a portable and reliable safety check for equipment to pinpoint insufficient EMI shielding. Instead of a binary pass/fail test, it will enable engineers to determine precisely how close they are to the no-fire threshold. The pyrometer calculates the amount of stray energy by measuring small amounts of thermal radiation emitted by the bridgewire during test. The data collected by the pyrometer data acquisition system can be used to determine the resultant stray current value. Existing technologies can only determine the minimum threshold of current required to ignite an explosive but not the actual measured current present in the system. By contrast, this technology provides users a measurement of how much stray energy is present and if the stray current exceeds or meets the acceptable threshold. Commercial companies can use this technology to measure the amount stray current present to quantify the risk before loading explosives initiators to be used in space and commercial systems.
power generation and storage
Internal Short Circuit Testing Device to Improve Battery Designs
Astronauts' lives depend on the safe performance and reliability of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries when they are working and living on the International Space Station. These batteries are used to power everything such as communications systems, laptop computers, and breathing devices. Their reliance on safe use of Li-ion batteries led to the research and development of a new device that can more precisely trigger internal short circuits, predict reactions, and establish safeguards through the design of the battery cells and packs. Commercial applications for this device exist as well, as millions of cell phones, laptops, and electronic drive vehicles use Li-ion batteries every day. In helping manufacturers understand why and how Li-ion batteries overheat, this technology improves testing and quality control processes. The uniqueness of this device can be attributed to its simplicity. In a particular embodiment, it is comprised of a small copper and aluminum disc, a copper puck, polyethylene or polypropylene separator, and a layer of wax as thin as the diameter of one human hair. After implantation of the device in a cell, an internal short circuit is induced by exposing the cell to higher temperatures and melting the wax, which is then wicked away by the separator, cathode, and anode, leaving the remaining metal components to come into contact and induce an internal short. Sensors record the cell's reactions. Testing the battery response to the induced internal short provides a 100% reliable testing method to safely test battery containment designs for thermal runaway. This jointly developed and patented technology is available for your company to license and develop into a commercial product. NASA does not manufacture products for commercial sale.
A Portable Impactor Device
The NASA impactor is a fully portable device that propels an instrumented projectile so that it impacts a vehicle, structural component, or test specimen. The device includes a projectile inside an exterior tube. The projectile itself contains a commercial load cell designed to obtain the dynamic force response during the impact event. Furthermore, a digital oscilloscope and optical sensor are combined to measure the velocity just prior to impact so that the impact energy of the projectile onto the test surface can be calculated. In the current configuration, impacts with energies between 4 and 40 J (between about 3 and 30 ft-lbs) are obtainable, and could be adjusted by changing the spring to one with a different spring constant. The tube can be handheld or rigidly mounted at any angle such that the impact response can be evaluated at specified positions throughout the test article. The impactor device is primarily designed for use on composite structures to investigate the structural response from a low-velocity impact, as composite materials are highly susceptible to damage from low-velocity impacts where the damage may not be visible but results in great loss of strength. If the damage cannot be detected visually, it can be seen through nondestructive testing (ultrasonic, flash thermography or X-ray). However, the device may also be used on structures to evaluate and tune structural health monitoring systems. The technology has been designed, prototyped, and implemented in four military or government programs for impact testing on metallic and composite structures, including a helicopter roof in 2013. The cost of the parts for the prototype was approximately $9,000. Production costs are expected to be lower.
mechanical and fluid systems
Micro scale electro hydrodynamic (EHD) modular cartridge pump
NASA GSFCs EHD pump uses electric fields to move a dielectric fluid coolant in a thermal loop to dissipate heat generated by electrical components with a low power system. The pump has only a few key components and no moving parts, increasing the simplicity and robustness of the system. In addition, the lightweight pump consumes very little power during operation and is modular in nature. The pump design takes a modular approach to the pumping sections by means of an electrically insulating cartridge casing that houses the high voltage and ground electrodes along with spacers that act as both an insulator and flow channel for the dielectric fluid. The external electrical connections are accomplished by means of commercially available pin and jack assemblies that are configurable for a variety of application interfaces. It can be sized to work with small electric components or lab-on-a-chip devices and multiple pumps can be placed in line for pumping greater distances or used as a feeder system for smaller downstream pumps. All this is done as a one-piece construction consolidating an assembly of 21 components over previous iterations.