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 August 28, 2014

Blood drive The next American Red Cross Blood Drive at Edwards AFB is 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sept. 3 in the Chapel 1 Annex. Both walk-ins and appointments are accepted. To make an appointment you may contact the blood drive coordinators:†Senior Airman Joe Hernandez at joe.hernandez.8@us.af.mil or Senior Airman Sarah Bird at sarah.bird.2@us.af.mil. You may also...
 
 

Notice of intention to appoint school board trustee

Due to a lack of sufficient candidates for the upcoming school board election for Trustee Area #2, Office B, the Board of Trustees of the Muroc Joint Unified School District intends to appoint a qualified individual to the Board of Trustees, pursuant to Education Code section 5326. Applicants must be 18 years of age or...
 
 

New paradigm aims to ‘zeroize’ sexual assault

Why does the U.S. Air Force need a Sexual Assault Awareness Month? Is it really a problem? Isn’t sexual assault more prevalent outside the military? Where do these statistics come from anyway? Is it realistic to aim for zero assaults? Thankfully, these outrageous questions represent the vestiges of a retreating mindset. A new paradigm aims...
 

 
nasa-obit

Former NASA Astronaut Steven Nagel, veteran of four shuttle flights, dies at 67

Former NASA astronaut Steven R. Nagel, who served as a mission specialist on his first space shuttle flight, pilot on his second and commanded his final two, died Aug. 21 after a long illness. He was 67 years old. After his las...
 
 
Air Force graphic by Rebecca Amber

Being prepared in earthquake country

Air Force graphic by Rebecca Amber For National Preparedness Month, this September, the Edwards AFB Office of Emergency Management is focusing on Califorina’s most prominent natural disaster – earthquakes. Throughou...
 
 
af-band

Air Force Band of the Golden West

  Travis Brass, the multi-talented brass group of the U.S. Air Force Band of the Golden West will be performing in the area Sept. 5-7. Sept. 5, the group will be at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center, 26455 Rockwell ...
 




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>