Extreme conditions: Force transducers for space travel

In space, temperatures, pressures and forces will vary from those in the environments we have been familiar with. Because of this measurement technology ?up there? is subjected to specific stresses. WIKA has now 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 has long been commercialised, and concepts for space tourism are taking shape. In the development departments of the space industry, plans are maturing for new generations of launch vehicles along with other transporters for multiple, and thus resource-saving, missions. To create 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 acting on the flight control surfaces of the spacecraft. Surging 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 had not been able to meet the extraordinary requirements. The load pins would have to:
function reliably at extremely winter (right down to -65 �C)
withstand very high loads and become 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.
In the end, the drawings, technical data and test requirements finished up at WIKA. Due to their many years of experience, both with load pins and in addition in instrument miniaturisation, WIKA?s force measurement experts succeeded in developing and manufacturing the products that the client had wanted.
But that has been only the initial challenge. The next was to subject the strain pins to a variety of tests to assure, with absolute certainty, that they would function correctly in space. However, the testing facilities necessary for this weren’t available, neither internally nor externally. Just how could the extreme operating conditions of the sensors be simulated?
Special test equipment for the space-travel force transducers
There was only one answer: WIKA had to design and build its own special test facility with a heating chamber and an adjustment and calibration machine. It had to be able to:
apply an alternating load of 23,860 kg every seven seconds
maintain an internal temperature of -65 �C
This new equipment ultimately provided proof that the strain pins maintained the required measuring quality, even after 100,000 test cycles at the required 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 solutions for aviation too
Along with space flight, WIKA also serves the aviation industry with specific measurement solutions. One of these of this is the development of a force transducer within the European ?Clean Sky? programme, which aims to reduce emissions from aircraft. WIKA also supplies DirectDrive pressure gauges for oxygen systems and pressure transducers for ice detection in jet engines.
Note
More info on load pins along with other force measurement technology for extreme conditions, for example ring force transducers and strain transducers, can be found on the WIKA website. Also you can download a brochure with a concise overview of WIKA?s force measurement technology. Assuming you have any questions, your contact will gladly help you.
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
The strain transducer in practical application

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