Extreme conditions: Force transducers for space travel

In space, temperatures, pressures and forces are different from those in the environments we are familiar with. Therefore measurement technology ?up there? is subjected to specific stresses. WIKA has developed, tested and supplied special force transducers for space travel. These are customer-specific load pins which have now proven themselves on a flight into space.
Space travel is definitely commercialised, and concepts for space tourism are taking shape. In Uncertain of the space industry, plans are maturing for new generations of launch vehicles along with other transporters for multiple, and therefore resource-saving, missions. To bring passengers, crew and vehicles safely back again to earth, sophisticated technology, reliable in every situation, is indispensable.
A central role is played by the flight control system, which ensures the correct orientation of the spacecraft for safe missions into space and back. Load pins are critical components because of this. They must measure precisely the forces functioning on the flight control surfaces of the spacecraft. Conventional load pins are not up to this ? the criteria for spacecraft force transducers are too demanding for them.
Requirements for force transducers in space travel
In the seek out load pins suitable for space, an aerospace company had initially enquired with another manufacturer. But this supplier was not able to meet the extraordinary requirements. The load pins would have to:
function reliably at extremely cold temperatures (down to -65 �C)
withstand very high loads and be fatigue-proof
have very compact dimensions (the diameter of the measuring bore was just 8 mm)
A long time of experience with load pins and miniaturisation
WIKA has developed and built this version of lots pin for a space mission.
Ultimately, the drawings, technical data and test requirements finished up at WIKA. Due to their a long time of experience, both with load pins and also in instrument miniaturisation, WIKA?s force measurement experts succeeded in developing and manufacturing exactly the products that the client had wanted.
But that was only the initial challenge. The next was to subject the strain pins to a multitude of tests to assure, with absolute certainty, they would function correctly in space. However, Incredible for this weren’t available, neither internally nor externally. So how could the extreme operating conditions of the sensors be simulated?
Special test equipment for the space-travel force transducers
There was only 1 answer: WIKA had to design and build its special test facility with a heating chamber and an adjustment and calibration machine. It had to:
apply an alternating load of 23,860 kg every seven seconds
maintain an interior temperature of -65 �C
This new equipment ultimately provided proof that the strain pins maintained the required measuring quality, even with 100,000 test cycles at the mandatory low temperature. This was then also demonstrated in the application: The control surfaces of the spacecraft functioned perfectly and enabled a safe flight into space and back.
Measuring Helplessness for aviation too
Besides space flight, WIKA also serves the aviation industry with specific measurement solutions. One of these of this may be the development of a force transducer within the European ?Clean Sky? programme, which aims to lessen emissions from aircraft. WIKA also supplies DirectDrive pressure gauges for oxygen systems and pressure transducers for ice detection in jet engines.
Note
Further information on load pins and other force measurement technology for extreme conditions, for example ring force transducers and strain transducers, can be found on the WIKA website. You can also download a brochure with a concise summary of WIKA?s force measurement technology. When you have any questions, your contact will gladly assist you to.
Also read our posts
Force transducer: making air traffic cleaner
Force & power ? what are actually they?
Load pins and the like: One product, various terms & regions of application
Anchor force measurement ? a discipline that will require experience
Any risk of strain transducer in practical application

Leave a Comment