NASA

November 22, 2013

NASA tests SLS autopilot technology on F/A-18 Jet

An F/A-18 research jet simulated various flight conditions that NASA’s Space Launch System may experience as it makes its way from the launch pad to space, to evaluate the rocket’s flight control system. The tests are helping engineers design a system that can autonomously adjust to unexpected conditions during flight.

NASA has completed the first tests with an F/A-18 research jet to evaluate the autonomous flight control system for the agency’s Space Launch System rocket.

The system, called the Adaptive Augmenting Controller, will allow SLS to respond to vehicle and environmental variations such as winds or vehicle flexibility after it blasts off the launch pad and heads toward space. This is the first time a flight control system for a NASA rocket is being designed to adjust autonomously to unexpected conditions during actual flight rather than pre-flight predictions. This ability to make real-time adjustments to the autopilot provides enhanced performance and increased safety for the crew.

The tests were flown Nov. 14-15 out of NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. During the flights, more than 40 tests were conducted using SLS-like trajectories. The system was evaluated in different scenarios for up to 70 seconds at a time to match the rocket’s dynamics for the majority of its flight from liftoff to solid rocket booster separation.

“By flying a high-performance F/A-18 jet in a manner similar to our rocket, we’re able to simulate SLS’s flight conditions and improve our software,” said Tannen VanZwieten, SLS flight controls working group lead. “The innovative system that we are testing at Dryden is advancing flight control technology by adding an adaptive element which is new for launch vehicles. We’re using this technology to expand the capabilities of the SLS a bit more than what is possible with a traditional design.”

During the flight, NASA simulated both normal and abnormal flight conditions, such as sloshing propellant, and identified key aircraft vibrational characteristics. The flight test data will be used to refine software for SLS and plans for future F/A-18 flights, which will run through the end of the year.

“This is an example of how advanced rocket technology can be checked out in flight without having to be launched into space,” said John Carter, project manager for the flight tests at Dryden. “Doing this work on the F/A-18 test bed allows for low-cost, quick-schedule tests that can be repeated many times in order to gain confidence in the advanced controls technology, providing some unique testing advantages for this type of control system validation.”

This flight control system will be ready for the first flight test of the SLS, scheduled for 2017.

That flight will feature a 70-metric-ton lift capacity configuration and carry an uncrewed Orion spacecraft beyond low-Earth orbit to test the performance of the integrated system. As the SLS evolves, it will provide an unprecedented lift capability of 130-metric-tons to enable missions even farther into our solar system to places such as an asteroid and Mars.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

News Briefs October 24, 2014

M4/M9 Firing Range closure The Edwards AFB Combat Arms Firing Range is closed for M4 and M9 firing until further notice. Any required firing for PCS or deployments will temporarily be accomplished at March ARB, Calif. To schedule training, contact the Combat Arms section at 661-277-2103. It is strongly recommended that all firing be scheduled as soon...
 
 
town-hall

Edwards community holds town hall meeting

Air Force photograph by Jena Romo Col. Eric Leshinksy, 412th Mission Support Group commander, addresses the audience at a town hall meeting Oct. 15 at the Airmen and Family Readiness Center. The Edwards community gathered at th...
 
 
Instagram by Master Sgt. Sonny Cohrs

Online vigilance helps reduce risk

Instagram by Master Sgt. Sonny Cohrs The Air Force reminds us not to post information about deployment departures, locations, and on-going operations. However, even a simple photo of your family pet can reveal personal informat...
 

 
Air Force photograph by Rebecca Amber

Gathering of Eagles honors 70 years of TPS

Air Force photograph by Rebecca Amber Brig. Gen. Michael Brewer, 412th Test Wing commander, offered the closing remarks for the event, reminding the audience that fundraiser is about preparing for the future. The Flight Test Hi...
 
 
commissary

Giving ‘gift of groceries’? Think Commissary gift cards

No matter the occasion, Commissary gift cards are always available to help family members, friends and organizations give the gift of groceries. “Our gift cards are versatile,” said Randy Chandler, the Defense Commi...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Christian Turner

AFMC command chief visits with Edwards Airmen

Air Force photograph by Christian Turner Chief Master Sgt. Michael J. Warner, Air Force Materiel Command command chief, speaks to enlisted Airmen at Club Muroc Oct. 15. Warner held two enlisted calls speaking to junior Airmen i...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>