Kistler supports Airbus Defence & Space with developing the service module for the Orion spacecraft

Fifty years after Apollo 11 landed on the moon, a new chapter in manned space flight is opening with the Orion spacecraft. This development is being driven ahead by NASA with support from the European Space Agency (ESA). On behalf of ESA, Airbus Defence & Space is developing the ESM service module for the Orion program. The propulsion unit and vitally important technical components are physically close together in the module – which means that intensive tests are essential. Kistler's measurement technology experts are supporting Airbus with piezoelectric pressure sensors to supply critical information about potentially hazardous pressure surges in the fuel pipeline.

Following exhaustive tests, the Orion spacecraft (Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle or MPCV) is due to transport humans to the moon again in 2023. After this mission, manned flights with the MPCV could reach destinations such as Mars for the first time. The ESA's contribution is the ESM service module, which will sit directly below the crew capsule after Orion is assembled at NASA. The ESM houses the propulsion unit as well as the energy generation and control equipment, the air conditioning plant and vital technical components to supply water, oxygen and nitrogen.

This is the first time that NASA has placed its trust in technology from outside the USA for a mission-critical component. A key factor in NASA's decision was the success of ESA's Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), which can dock automatically with the International Space Station (ISS). ESA's participation also means that European astronauts will get the chance to be on board the next flight to the moon. Airbus Defence & Space, which was commissioned by ESA to develop and build the ESM service module, was already able to deliver the first ESM to the USA in November 2018. The module underwent extensive functional and stability testing in Bremen prior to delivery.

Accurate monitoring of pressure surges in the fuel system

The main propulsion unit comprises a space shuttle engine combined with eight medium-sized Aerojet Rocketdyne engines and 24 small engines developed by Airbus itself. For the tests, Airbus is using a propulsion qualification model (PQM) that can function with only 12 small engines instead of the 24 in the real unit. The propulsion system for the ESM service module requires exceptionally thorough testing, because the technical equipment in the ESM that is vital to the crew's survival is located directly adjacent to it: a malfunction in space would have fatal consequences. The PQM test module itself is not intended for space flights, but is purely a test model that should supply precise information about the functionalities of the complex technology in different environments.

Pressure surges in the fuel valves represent a particular source of hazards, so they must be examined down to the last detail in advance. These pressure surges are caused by the water hammer effect, also known as the Joukowski head. This involves pressure surges of about one millisecond that occur with extreme rapidity in liquid fuel whenever a valve is opened or closed. The faster the valves open or close, the stronger the pressure surge will be. These changes in pressure must not be allowed to exceed a defined limit, because excessive pressure surges can damage the pipelines or other critical components. An explosion could even occur in the worst-case scenario, because rapid compression can cause the hydrazine rocket fuel to ignite.

To prevent this, and to enable precise adjustment of the valve system, Airbus uses piezoelectric pressure sensors from Kistler in its tests. A total of 40 type 601C BA 00070.0 sensors are installed in the propulsion qualification model. This exceptionally resilient sensor delivers reliable and highly accurate information in the temperature range from –196°C to 350°C. It also covers a measurement range of 0 to 70 bar. Thanks to Integrated Electronics Piezo Electric (IEPE) technology, this model performs its function without an additional charge amplifier. In terms of the measurement setup, this means that the data is transmitted as a voltage signal, together with the power supply, via a regular coaxial cable. The sensor's small dimensions – it has a diameter of only 5.5 millimeters – make it especially suitable for use in rocket engines: the sensors are located inside the propulsion equipment, upstream and downstream of the valves, to monitor rapid changes in pressure. The engineers use the measurements to validate their calculations and ensure that the limits are never exceeded in any case. They can implement adaptations if necessary.

Flying to the moon – thanks to reliable measurement results

Airbus has delivered the PQM, including the sensor technology, to the USA where NASA is carrying out further trials on the test module. Meanwhile, the engineers and technicians in Bremen are already working on a second ESM, because the actual service module can only be used once in space. Airbus Defence & Space has already ordered ten additional pressure sensors for further tests on the small Airbus engines. In the future too, the company intends to put its trust in sensor technology and know-how supplied by Kistler.

Especially in manned space flight, it's essential to carry out tests in advance to provide 100% certainty that everything will go according to plan during a real flight. For that reason, it's important to have the support of a partner who is an absolute expert in the field of sensor technology and measurement data processing."

Florian Hasenknopf, PQM Test Engineer at Airbus D&S

 

Kistler also takes a positive view of the ongoing collaboration. "We're very proud that our sensors are playing a key part in the safety of manned space flight," according to Ricardo Rodrigo, Product Manager Pressure Sensors at Kistler.

7/17/2019
Turkey opts for weight enforcement with WIM technology from Kistler
6/24/2019
For the next manned flight to the moon: safety that can be measured
6/20/2019
Segregation of good and bad parts every 1.5 seconds: process monitoring with Kistler enables high quality for over 5 million parts per year.
5/14/2019
In order to achieve excellent quality for its components and medical devices, Tessy Plastics chose sensors and solutions from Kistler.
4/18/2019
A renowned manufacturer of electrical appliances trusts testing and sorting systems by Vester to improve its quality.
4/2/2019
NFL's Jaguars boost their fitness levels with Kistler.
3/25/2019
By using process monitoring from Kistler, not only the assembly of electric fuses is validated, but even the function of the sensors itself.
3/18/2019
How to determine the fitness level of an athlete efficiently? A practical report on the Quattro Jump force plate system from Kistler.
12/17/2018
Thanks to precise Weigh in Motion technology from Kistler, Hungary's roads are sustainably protected against overloaded vehicles.
11/27/2018
Bang&Clean relies on Kistler's precise measurement of ignition processes and pressure wave propagation
10/10/2018
Sartorius applies the process monitoring system ComoNeo from Kistler and thereby increases the process quality during injection molding
10/8/2018
The Dortmund Technical University tests the new MicroDyn 9109AA cutting force dynamometer from Kistler and breaks new ground for developing its micromachining processes.
8/31/2018
The ZF company operates a software-controlled Kistler fastener test bench with an integrated vibration unit.
8/14/2018
BIG Daishowa, headquartered in Osaka, Japan, is one of the leading producers of tool holders for the machining industry. Each year the company produces over half a million collet chucks. Their products are developed using, among other resources, Kistler’s cutting force measuring device.
7/16/2018
Enhanced quality and efficiency in mobile crane manufacture – thanks to the test stand for torque tools by Kistler
4/11/2018
The world’s largest provider of rail transport technology relies on Kistler’s measurement expertise. Thanks to the only crash wall of its kind in the world, the impact forces of the trains and their components can be precisely measured and analyzed.
11/14/2017
In the development of cooling lubricants, Blaser Swisslube relies on Kistler's measurement expertise.
8/11/2017
Applus IDIADA relies on DTI in-dummy technology from Kistler for Test Device for Human Occupant Restraint (THOR).
1/4/2017
Road safety is a central topic in vehicle development. Through accurate measurements, Kistler helps increase the chance of survival in crashes.
12/22/2016
Kistler makes progress in vehicle development possible
12/22/2016
Kistler Sensor Correvit® SFII measures world record
12/20/2016
Kistler sensors deliver a maximum in data quality under any conditions.
11/7/2016
Kistler pressure sensors enabled the Rosetta space probe to fly for 6.4 billion kilometers.
10/5/2016
Since the end of 2015 FC Basel is using Kistler force plates to reduce the dropout of young talents.
8/17/2016
Kistler makes the difference in the crucial sports moments with its Performance Analysis System for Swimming.
2/19/2016
Determination of Pump Efficiency with Kistler KiTorq Measuring Flange System
11/4/2015
Piezoelectric Measurements with CompactRIO™
6/15/2015
Measurement Solutions for Automotive Test Systems
5/8/2015
Quality Assurance in the Automotive Industry
3/2/2015
How Brose improves the quality of its two-component production and automatically separates defective parts
12/2/2014
The Kistler Group pursues a growth policy that is both ambitious and sustainable – and strategic acquisitions are one of its core elements. ‘Strategic’ means that Kistler deliberately selects companies which can achieve more together with Kistler than they ever could by continuing alone. The takeover of Dr. Staiger Mohilo & Co. GmbH in 2006 enabled Kistler to grow jointly with the acquired company...
12/2/2014
After a ten-year voyage, the Rosetta space probe's Philae landing module finally touched down on the surface of comet ‘Chury’.
8/23/2011
HEWI and its Customers Benefit from Cavity Pressure Technology
2/15/2011
End-to-end process monitoring for critical medical moldings
2/7/2011
Cavity pressure measurement eliminates short shots at Fischer GmbH & Co KG of Sinsheim/Germany
Contact
Cara-Isabell Maercklin
Cara-Isabell Maercklin
Media Contact
Contact
(max 25 Mb)