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Dynamometers Assist Testing for Satellite Development

March 21, 2017
Dynamometers are employed in testing moving parts within satellite systems.

Components and materials for deep-space use, such as in satellites and spacecraft, have a special set of requirements to ensure reliable long-term operation in a vacuum. Satellite suppliers such as Lockheed Martin perform almost continuous testing of components and materials in vacuum chambers to better understand the effects of vacuum conditions, as well as wide temperature extremes.

Such testing often involves equipment not normally found in traditional electronic test labs, including the AC motoring dynamometers employed in the Lockheed Martin Space System’s Materials Technologies Laboratory (see photo). Supplied by Sakor Technologies, Inc., the AccuDyne dynamometers have been a fixture in the laboratory since 2012, notably for testing the R-Series Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES-R) for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Dynamometers are used for precision motor control when testing movable systems in satellites.

The two most recent dynamometers supplied by Sakor to Lockheed Martin feature a number of updates and enhancements over the original systems, with the capability to directly control motors and drives with or without the MIL-STD/1553 avionics bus. The dynamometer systems are designed for use with magneto-fluidic couplings. As a result, they can test products within a thermo-vacuum chamber while the dynamometer remains outside the chamber.

The dynamometers can be used as independent test systems, or in networked configurations with as many as four dynamometers operating for comparison of motors and drives under different operating conditions, or different components under similar operating conditions. The two latest systems are capable of a wide range of torques and speeds, including high-torque rotation as slow as 3 × 10-6 rpm, which equates to one full rotation every 231.5 days—the type of motor controlled needed for satellite applications.

About the Author

Jack Browne | Technical Contributor

Jack Browne, Technical Contributor, has worked in technical publishing for over 30 years. He managed the content and production of three technical journals while at the American Institute of Physics, including Medical Physics and the Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology. He has been a Publisher and Editor for Penton Media, started the firm’s Wireless Symposium & Exhibition trade show in 1993, and currently serves as Technical Contributor for that company's Microwaves & RF magazine. Browne, who holds a BS in Mathematics from City College of New York and BA degrees in English and Philosophy from Fordham University, is a member of the IEEE.

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