NASA Study Begins for Integrated Vibration and Acceleration Testing to Reduce Space Payload Mass, Cost and Mission Risk

Southampton, PA, USA. October 26, 2012 – The NASTARĀ® Center, the premier commercial aerospace training and research center in the world, in collaboration with American Aerospace Advisors, Inc (AAAI) and Drexel University, was awarded a NASA STTR (Small Business Technology Transfer) Phase I contract for “Integrated Vibration and Acceleration Testing to Reduce Payload Mass, Cost and Mission Risk”. Tests commenced on the reasearch project today. The goal of the research is to develop the capability to provide integrated acceleration, vibration, and shock testing using a state-of-the-art centrifuge (Phoenix Centrifuge) at the NASTAR Center, in order to subject payloads to the synergistic effects of combined environments. By providing more realistic load profiles, combined environment testing has the potential to significantly reduce payload and lunch vehicle subsystem mass, test costs, and mission risk.
“The results of this contract could have large implications for the space industry – namely the reduction of payload and launch vehicle subsystem mass, lower testing costs, and reduced overall mission risk,” explains David Yoel, CEO of American Aerospace Advisors Inc.
This contract is a follow on from a proof of concept demonstration performed in 2008 by NASTAR Center and AAAI. This contract expands on the original design and employs extensive modeling and simulation, a larger (electro-magnetic) shaker, a CubeSat-class satellite model, increased instrumentation (~10 accelerometers), and features a series of combined environments tests with multi-axis loads.
NASA Kennedy Space Center is the sponsor of the STTR, which runs from February 2012 until February 2013. The value of the Phase I award is $124,214. Combined environments tests are expected to commence in Fall 2012. A Phase II contract (if awarded) will introduce the capability to test even larger systems.
“The hope is that our efforts will lead us to receiving the Phase 2 award worth close to $1 million, which can enable our desired level of performance capability for a variety of payload mass range values”, said Michael Newman, Chief Research Scientist at NASTAR Center.
Earlier efforts to utilize centrifuges for flight qualification included the Space Shuttle Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Mission where payload up mass limitations created a need for additional testing using a centrifuge to reduce weight and qualify the lightened structure for flight. By testing in this way, NASA was able to substantially reduce the overall mass of the payload aboard the Space Shuttle.

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