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image of SwRI-designed compression mass gauge to measure the quantity of cryogenic liquid propellant in a spacecraft tank  image of SwRI-designed compression mass gauge to measure the quantity of cryogenic liquid propellant in a spacecraft tank

 

SwRI engineers designed a compression mass gauge to measure the quantity of cryogenic liquid propellant in a spacecraft tank. Laboratory tests showed the gauge to be more effective than conventional methods for determining liquid levels in microgravity.

The use of fluids in microgravity environments poses unique and complex problems. A comprehensive understanding of fluid behavior in space can significantly aid in space travel and better design of flight hardware. Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) scientists and engineers have studied the behavior of fluids in microgravity environments for an array of applications.

 

Space Industry Support

SwRI has utilized both ground hardware testing and flight article experiments. This work has supported functions such as:

  • Space vehicle operation

  • Extended-flight propellant production

  • Satellite deployment

 

image of experimental parts designed and fabricated by SwRI engineers; the Liquid Motion Experiment (LME) was tested aboard the space shuttle Atlantis  

image of the testing of the Liquid Motion Experiment (LME) aboard the space shuttle Atlantis
Photo courtesy of NASA Johnson Space Center

Designed and fabricated by SwRI engineers, the Liquid Motion Experiment (LME) was tested aboard the space shuttle Atlantis. The experiment investigated the motion of fluids in microgravity, yielding results vital to the design of space vehicles and satellites.

Space Fluids Research

Engineers have conducted extensive research in space fluids areas such as:

  • Mass gauging

  • Propellant properties

  • In situ propellant development

  • Gas compression in microgravity

  • Space article re-entry breakup modeling

  • Satellite tank liquid acquisition device development

  • Liquid motion properties in low gravity environments

image of an SwRI-designed and constructed spinning slosh test rig, which simulates spinning conditions experienced by satellites during deployment and operation   image of SwRI-developed waste gas compressor for the space station program

An SwRI-designed and constructed spinning slosh test rig, which simulates spinning conditions experienced by satellites during deployment and operation, helps investigate the stability of satellites with liquid motion excitation in microgravity environments.

 

Engineers developed this waste gas compressor for the space station program. Tests performed at SwRI provided rigorous validation of seal life in the compressor configuration to ensure long-term functionality in space environments.

 

 

SwRI engineers have designed, fabricated, and tested this carbon dioxide compressor to be used in a new water production system installed on board the International Space Station. To meet the challenging design requirements and constraints, the compressor was designed as a water-cooled, electric motor-driven, oil-less, two-stage, reciprocating machine. Click image for a video animation of the compressor operation.

 

For more information about our fluids engineering capabilities, or how you can contract with SwRI, please e-mail fluids@swri.org or call (210) 522-3520.

 

fluids.swri.org

 

Contact Information

Fluids Engineering

fluids@swri.org

(210) 522-3520

fluids.swri.org

Related Terminology

microgravity sloshing

space fluids

propellant research

flight-test articles

spin rig

fluid dynamics

satellite propulsion

gas compression

low-gravity sloshing

Related Information

Flow Component Testing Facilities

| Fluids and Machinery Engineering Department | Mechanical Engineering Division | SwRI Home |

Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®), headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, is a multidisciplinary, independent, nonprofit, applied engineering and physical sciences research and development organization with 10 technical divisions.

11/23/15