3721. A Weight and Center of Gravity Instrument for Measuring Manned Spacecraft


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Dan Otlowski: 3721. A Weight and Center of Gravity Instrument for Measuring Manned Spacecraft. 2019.



Rocketry dynamics equations prescribe that the mass properties of spacecraft, particularly the spacecraft’s mass and center of gravity (CG), be carefully choreographed throughout the launch, mission execution, and recovery stages. Mission design carefully selects CG locations for each of the spacecraft modules alone and in combinations, making CG verification an important step toward ensuring mission success. Measuring the CG of large spacecraft presents many of the typical problems associated with measuring CG of smaller objects. Some of these issues are commonly: constructing a measuring system with known geometry, maintaining the repeatability of said geometry under a wide array of load conditions, selecting force transducers with sensitivity appropriate to the verification tolerance, preserving that sensitivity throughout the measurement, and devising a method to relate the spacecraft’s datum to the instrument’s datum. A purpose-built, mass properties measurement solution that addresses all of these issues is the topic of this paper. In this paper, we will describe the form of the instrument, detail enabling technologies, explain performance drivers, and summarize our results.


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