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. Therefore measurement technology ?up there? is subjected to specific stresses. WIKA has developed, tested and supplied special force transducers for space travel. They are customer-specific load pins that 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 therefore resource-saving, missions. To create passengers, crew and vehicles safely back to earth, sophisticated technology, reliable in every situation, is indispensable.
A central role is played by the flight control system, which ensures the right orientation of the spacecraft for safe missions into space and back. Load pins are critical components because of this. Adequate must measure precisely the forces acting on the flight control surfaces of the spacecraft. Conventional load pins aren’t 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 strain pins would have to:
function reliably at extremely cold temperatures (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)
Many years of experience with load pins and miniaturisation
WIKA is rolling out and built this version of a load pin for an area mission.
Ultimately, the drawings, technical data and test requirements ended 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 customer had wanted.
But that was only the first challenge. The second was to subject the strain pins to a variety of tests in order to guarantee, with absolute certainty, they would function correctly in space. However, the testing facilities necessary for this were not 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 own 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 mandatory measuring quality, even after 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 solutions for aviation too
Besides space flight, WIKA also serves the aviation industry with specific measurement solutions. One example of this is 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
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. You may also download a brochure with a compact summary of WIKA?s force measurement technology. Should Deadline 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 so on: One product, various terms & areas of application
Anchor force measurement ? a discipline that will require experience
The strain transducer in request

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