May 20 2011

Optical Sensing in NASA’s Constellation Project

Published by at 2:52 pm under General,Instruments,OS Technology,Sensors

NASAs Orion

Orion is the Crew Exploration Vehicle that was created for NASA’s Constellation project. At first glance, Constellation is reminiscent of the Apollo system, with the crew riding atop a large launch vehicle. But Orion is meant for longer missions to the moon and rendezvous with asteroids. So while Apollo and Constellation might look similar, the engineering tasks represent a new set of challenges. See more here www.nasa.gov/

Fiber optic strain sensors are being used to verify the design and performance of a critical part of the Orion Capsule¬†- the heat shield. Recent drop tests at the US Army’s Aberdeen Proving Grounds included 41 drops and various angles and velocities. A Micron Optics sm130-700 Optical Sensing Interrogator was the primary measurement tool gathering data from dozens of FBG strain gages welded to the interior surface of the heat shield.

Chris Lynn, NASA’s lead engineer for these tests, had this to say to the Micron Optics team following the tests “The Crew Module water landing drop tests were very successful, so much so that we completed a total of 41 drops when we only planned for 23 in the original test matrix. The fiber optic strain sensors provided by Micron Optics held up extremely well during testing -¬†we didn’t lose a single sensor during the duration of testing. We greatly appreciate MOI’s support during all phases of work, without the great work the testing would not have been a success. Thanks again for the great work!”

Tom Graver
Vice President -Optical Sensing Group

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