G Systems delivers NASA Orion test stations; Congress discusses ending Constellation/Orion

G Systems, a test and measurement automation company, delivered its first system for a new Orion crew exploration vehicle test station at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, LA. Congress holds hearings talking about ending the program. One data acquisition system has 3,500 channels.

February 25, 2010
The end of next-generation space travel ? Today Congress had hearings with NASA to discuss the proposed 2011budget recommends cancelling the Constellation/Orion program . If you think this project is worthwhile,contact your elected officials and tell them why:www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml.

NASA Orion Crew Module Prototype, during weighing (photo: NASA)

G Systems, a test and measurement automation company specializing in challenging data acquisition requirements, delivered its first system for a new Orion crew exploration vehicle test station at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, LA, the company announced today. Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor to NASA for Orion, awarded G Systems three contracts valued at over $1 million as part of a multi-phase delivery plan to design, integrate, and install an automated data acquisition and analysis test station for Orion by June 2010. The test stations will provide critical data to ensure structural endurance and spacecraft safety.

G Systems’ first system, the Data Acquisition System (DAS) , will be used at the Orion Structural Test Facility (OSTF) to view, collect, store, analyze, and transfer data from more than 1,400 analog data channels. Primary data input will be from strain gauges applied to the Orion Crew Module, Service Module (SM), Launch Abort System Fairing Assembly (LASFA), and heat shield structures during ground testing. The G Systems designed DAS will collect stress data such as torque, strain, and pressure to simulate and measure the effects the Orion spacecraft will experience during take-off, space flight, and re-entry.
The second test and measurement system , the Data Distribution System (DDS), includes hardware and custom software to collect, distribute, and analyze audio, video, and parametric data collected by the DAS. The DDS will be capable of receiving streaming, real-time test data from greater than 3,500 data channels. The DDS will also control a number of cameras and be able to record, display, and playback all acquired signals simultaneously on multiple client PCs via a network.
The third test system provided by G Systems is a computerized pressure and vent system which integrates with the DAS for pressure testing the Crew Module. This system is capable of pressurizing the cabin using either air or helium. The tool also includes an operator control terminal for setting and regulating pressure and monitoring temperature.
G Systems will provide complete turn-key test systems that include hardware and software design, fabrication, system integration, training, and support acceptance testing at the Michoud Assembly Facility.
"These Orion test systems will take advantage of G Systems’ extensive experience in cost-effectively delivering complex high channel count test systems requiring time-synchronized data acquisition and analysis," said Doug Kibler, G Systems’ senior sales manager. "The new system provides NASA and Lockheed Martin a robust platform for stress testing with precision measurements and data management."
Headquartered in Richardson, Texas, G Systems, L.P. (G Systems) is a privately held engineering services and systems integration company offering expertise in designing turn-key test and measurement, data acquisition, and control systems. Since 1990, G Systems says it has maintained a strong reputation for reliable delivery of quality automated test and control systems. G Systems supplies test system products/services to aerospace/defense, telecom, manufacturing, semiconductor, energy, and medical industries.

Program status, investments to date from G Systems’ customer, Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin offered the following points about the next steps for the Lockheed Martin Orion Project Team.

– We are working closely with our NASA customer to successfully complete our projects planned for FY10.

Near-term priorities for the program this fiscal year are:

o Completing a successful Pad Abort 1 test flight;

o Completing the Orion Ground Test Article;

o Closing out Design Analysis Cycle -4;

o Preparing for a successful Critical Design Review;

o STORRM: (Sensor Test for Orion RelNav Risk Mitigation );

o Completing the Phase 1 Safety Review with the Constellation Safety Engineering Review Panel; and

o Continuing Orion hardware progress.

– The Orion Ground Test Article is nearing completion at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, and Orion’s first test flight – Pad Abort 1 – will take place at White Sands Missile Range this spring. The flight test will demonstrate the performance of the launch abort system and has been approved by NASA headquarters to be conducted this fiscal year.

• We have made tremendous progress on Orion to get it to a mature design level. A number of facilities and tooling systems have been built or upgraded to support production of the new spacecraft, myriad subsystem and motor tests have been conducted and hardware has been fabricated at facilities across the country.

• Orion’s first test flight – Pad Abort 1 – will take place at White Sands Missile Range this spring. The flight test will demonstrate the performance of the launch abort system which will greatly improve crew safety.

• Orion’s Development has driven technology innovation: More than 20 new technologies are being developed or advanced because of the challenges involved in meeting mass, performance and environmental requirements for Orion. Several different subject disciplines were found to need further development: Electronics, Computer reliability and processing, Mechanical Design and Packaging, Sensors, and Materials.

• Innovative technologies such as the new launch abort system, autonomous rendezvous and docking, closed-loop life support systems, lithium polymer batteries, as well as state-of-the-art solar power and avionics systems have been incorporated into Orion’s vehicle’s

About the Lockheed Martin Orion Team

• The Lockheed Martin Orion Project office is based in Houston, Texas, near NASA’s Johnson Space Center. The team includes major subcontractors Aerojet, Alliant Techsystems (ATK), Hamilton Sundstrand, Honeywell, Orbital Sciences Corporation and United Space Alliance; and an expansive network of minor subcontractors and small businesses working at 88 facilities in 28 states across the country.

• Lockheed Martin and its major subcontractors employ about 2,400 employees in 18 states. Our minor subcontractors employ at a minimum an additional 950 people. Lockheed Martin employees another 110 employees in its Human Space Flight line of business, which supports all Constellation program initiatives.

Also read about NASA and Orion efforts:

– Embedded in space: LDRA tools for Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle Space Program ;
– Controlling big machines: Large Collider, NASA Orion, strongest robot ;
– Cicoil cables help NASA robotic arm for Mars .

– Edited by Mark T. Hoske, editor in chief, Control Engineering, www.controleng.com.