Wednesday, February 01, 2012

How NASA Fixed Aries for Five Bucks

You know, sometimes it good to see that NASA can still pull the fat out of the fire when push comes to shove....(oh dear...mixed Metaphors!)

You have heard here that the Aries lifter had a flaw that to fix would cost hundreds of millions. This flaw was a vibration that built up as the solid boosters burned down. This vibration, when coupled to the control deck made it impossible for the astronauts to read the craft's digital read outs and therefor impossible to complete the tasks of getting the system to orbit. Plans to correct the flaw went to ridiculous springs to even more unusual redos. But in this Gizmodo article, NASA engineers think if not outside the capsule, at least outside the box. In the article, after measuring the oscillations of the solid boosters, engineers scrounged up simple accelerometers and associated circuitry costing a mere fraction of the projected booster re-engineering. The fix was not to stop the vibration, but to strobe the digital readouts in the cabin at the same frequency as the solid rocket boosters - saving untold millions!

It is kind of moot since the Aries has been delayed and shelved numerous times, but it does show that there is still a certain amount of inventiveness still going on in NASA. Check out the Gizmodo article here

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