There are plenty of use-case examples of composite materials in aircraft and cars, and now the space program is getting in the action. NASA’s Engineering and Safety Center (NESC) at Langley Research Center has just completed a series of full-scale physical tests using the HyperSizer structural sizing and composite analysis software to accurately predict the performance of the Composite Crew Module (CCM) under simulated flight conditions.
HyperSizer, from Collier Research Corp., was used throughout the almost three-year development project to optimize the design, weight and manufacturability of the CCM. The CCM is an all-composite alternative for the flight crew module Orion, which is part of NASA’s Constellation program to return man to the moon and/or Mars. The CCM, constructed of honeycomb sandwich and solid laminate composites, will help NASA examine the materials tradeoffs between metals and composites in space structures. NASA officials say the success of the recent HyperSizer tests are a positive sign that lightweight composites can find a home in space vehicle development.
As an optimization tool, HyperSizer works in a feedback loop with finite element analysis (FEA) software to automatically point to solutions that will minimize weight and maximize manufacturability. In the case of the CCM, HyperSizer provided a view into what the physics were doing, while also serving as a primary communications tool for displaying analytical results during the various technical reviews on the project.
During the test phase, the NASA engineering team blanketed the CCM vehicle with 280 linear strain gages-fiber optic cables generating about 3,000 channels of data-along with 80 acoustic sensors that listened for fiber breaks in the composite lay-ups. The tests also monitored internal pressure, and the CCM had to withstand twice standard atmospheric pressure in order to comply with NASA safety regulations.
According to NASA officials, the structure successfully withstood load tests to simulate launch abort and parachute deployment. And while there will be additional testing into early 2010, the success of the internal pressure test means the development program for the CCM will remain on track.
In this new Design News feature, "How it Works," we’re starting off by examining the inner workings of the electronic cigarette. While e-cigarettes seemed like a gimmick just two or three years ago, they’re catching fire -- so to speak. Sales topped $1 billion last year and are set to hit $10 billion by 2017. Cigarette companies are fighting back by buying up e-cigarette manufacturers.
Advertised as the "Most Powerful Tablet Under $100," the Kindle Fire HD 6 was too tempting for the team at iFixit to pass up. Join us to find out if inexpensive means cheap, irreparable, or just down right economical. It's teardown time!
The increased adoption of wireless technology for mission-critical applications has revved up the global market for dynamic electronic general purpose (GP) test equipment. As the link between cloud networks and devices -- smartphones, tablets, and notebooks -- results in more complex devices under test, the demand for radio frequency test equipment is starting to intensify.
Much of the research on lithium-ion batteries is focused on how to make the batteries charge more quickly and last longer than they currently do, work that would significantly improve the experience of mobile device users, as well EV and hybrid car drivers. Researchers in Singapore have come up with what seems like the best solution so far -- a battery that can recharge itself in mere minutes and has a potential lifespan of 20 years.
Some humanoid walking robots are also good at running, balancing, and coordinated movements in group settings. Several of our sports robots have won regional or worldwide acclaim in the RoboCup soccer World Cup, or FIRST Robotics competitions. Others include the world's first hockey-playing robot and a trash-talking Scrabble player.
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