classic | mobile
 

Search...

 

New docking system for space rendezvous
Third Quarter 2019, This Week's Editor's Pick, Electrical switching & drive systems & components


The European Space Agency (ESA) is working on a new system to enable easy docking between two spacecraft. maxon motor developed two special drive systems for this purpose. Even though it has been done many times before, the docking manoeuvre between two objects in space is always a delicate and potentially dangerous procedure. The speed is extremely high, about 28 000 km/h in the case of the International Space Station (ISS), and correc-tions are difficult. For example, when the two objects are about to meet, manoeuvring thrusters can no longer be used, since their exhaust plumes can cause damage. To prevent harm, cargo transporters are caught by a robotic arm installed in the ISS and berthed manually. Manned spacecraft on the other hand dock directly in a computer-controlled process.

This type of docking manoeuvre is going to become easier and safer in the future, so the European Space Agency (ESA) has commissioned its industry partners to design a new docking system called International Berthing and Docking Mechanism (IBDM). The mechanism’s first missions will be with the Dream Chaser, a craft that will soon perform cargo flights to the ISS.

Docking energy is absorbed

The IBDM is an androgynous coupling system. This means that the connector is identical on both sides. It consists of a hard inner ring (Hard Capture System) and a soft outer ring (Soft Capture System) that has six degrees of freedom and force sensors. The outer ring first absorbs the docking energy. Then the final airtight connection is made and secured by mechanical hooks which pull the two spacecraft tightly together.

SENER is in charge of developing and installing the Hard Capture System. The company is currently working on the qualification model, which is due for testing in 2020. “The IBDM needs to be used as quickly as possible on a supply flight for the ISS,” says SENER’s Gabriel Ybarra. “One of the next steps would be to use it in NASA’s Lunar Space Station, which is planned to go into orbit around the moon and could serve as a launch point for manned missions to Mars in the future.”

Dual systems for maximum safety

This is a challenging project for the engineers at SENER: “We first needed to fully understand all the requirements set by ESA and NASA, especially with regard to safety, because the docking mechanism can also cope with manned flights,” continues Ybarra. “As well as being lightweight and delivering the required torque, the electrical drives that are used must also be extremely

reliable. This is why SENER has been working with drive specialist maxon for several years.”

For the hard capture system maxon developed an EC 32 flat motor with two windings and a GPX 22 UP planetary gearhead. There are twelve maxon drive systems powering the locking hooks. Each consists of two brushless EC-4pole 30 motors and a GPX 42 UP gearhead. maxon’s engineers have developed two drives that can be used to execute a huge variety of functions. This first drive consists of two brushless EC-4pole motors and a GPX UP gearhead. Twelve of these actuators power the locking hooks in the IBDM docking mechanism. The second drive combines a flat motor with a planetary gearhead. It is used in eleven places to manage the plug-in connections and the retaining eyes, as well as other ancillary functions. As the IBDM docking mechanism is a flight-critical application, redundant drive systems are required. The backup must function even if the primary drive fails. This is often solved by means of a backup motor that can take over in an emergency. This is the approach used for the locking hook actuator. For the other drive system however, the maxon engineers found a different, unconventional solution: an additionalstator is used instead of an extra motor. The flat motor therefore has two stators and hence two windings, each of which is capable of independently driving the rotor – an ingenuous solution, which guarantees safety while saving space.

Ybarra praises the collaboration with maxon: “The team understands our requirements and is very quick with design modifications. Moreover, both partners have a passion for mechatronic systems. It feels great to be involved in the entire cycle, from design to production and testing. This makes it extremely interesting. And when the system moves for the first time, it’s like watching your children take their first steps.”

For more information contact Hans Burri, DNH Tradeserve, +27 11 468 2722, hans.burri@dnhtrade.co.za, www.dnhtrade.co.za


Credit(s)
Supplied By: DNH Tradeserve
Tel: +27 11 468 2722/4127
Fax: 086 509 6714
Email: info@dnhtrade.co.za
www: www.dnhtrade.co.za
Share via email     Print this page  

Further reading:

  • Does edge computing have the edge?
    Third Quarter 2019, Omron Electronics, This Week's Editor's Pick, Other technologies
    Implementing artificial intelligence in industrial manufacturing.
  • Underwater robot with a unique fin
    Third Quarter 2019, Festo, This Week's Editor's Pick, Robotics & Mechatronics
          Swimming like the natural model The longitudinal fins of the polyclad and the cuttlefish extend from the head to the tail along their backs, their undersides or the two sides of their torsos. To ...
  • Motors that let you know when it’s time for a service
    Third Quarter 2019, ABB South Africa, Robotics and Motion, This Week's Editor's Pick, Electrical switching & drive systems & components
    A new smart sensing solution from ABB can reduce downtimes of low voltage motors by up to 70% and extend their lifetime by up to 30%.
  • Cost-efficient production with 18 synchronous NC axes
    Third Quarter 2019, Beckhoff Automation, This Week's Editor's Pick, Electrical switching & drive systems & components
    Swedish equipment manufacturer, Ecmec has developed a high-tech machine for a supplier to the automobile industry that can complete several process steps simultaneously without having to remount the part ...
  • Contactless energy transfer system for automotive assembly line
    Third Quarter 2019, SEW-Eurodrive, This Week's Editor's Pick, Electrical switching & drive systems & components
    The Movitrans contactless energy transfer system from SEW-Eurodrive, in conjunction with its Movipro SDC decentralised drive, position and application controller, has played a critical role in an assembly ...
  • What is going on in the Milky Way?
    Third Quarter 2019, This Week's Editor's Pick, Electrical switching & drive systems & components
    One of the regions we know very little about is the dense part in the centre of the galaxy, where countless stars and gas clouds cluster around a presumed black hole. But a major astronomy project is ...
  • Flying motion
    2nd Quarter 2019, Beckhoff Automation, Electrical switching & drive systems & components
    A planar motor system of free-floating movers with six degrees of freedom.
  • Data, light and the smart factory
    2nd Quarter 2019, This Week's Editor's Pick, Other technologies
    Photonics – the science of harnessing photons through the cutting edge use of lasers and fibre optics – has become a key technology for smart factories.
  • Five hydraulics technology trends
    2nd Quarter 2019, Parker Hannifin - Sales Company South Africa, This Week's Editor's Pick, Hydraulic systems & components
    In this article are five key technology trends presented by Parker Hannifin that are shaping the future of hydraulics.
  • Industry 5.0 – the best of both worlds
    2nd Quarter 2019, Cobots , This Week's Editor's Pick, Robotics & Mechatronics
    The convergence of robot capabilities and human skills.
  • SEW-Eurodrive and Film Riggers help French Spiderman
    2nd Quarter 2019, SEW-Eurodrive, This Week's Editor's Pick, Electrical switching & drive systems & components
    Specialist rigging company, Film Riggers, was recently called upon to ensure the safety of Alain Robert, aka the French Spiderman, while he scaled a skyscraper in central Johannesburg to create an advertisement for an international tyre manufacturer.
  • Beacon lights of the modern age
    2nd Quarter 2019, Horne Technologies, This Week's Editor's Pick, Electrical switching & drive systems & components
    Anyone who takes a look inside a lighthouse along the French coast has a good chance of experiencing drive technology from Faulhaber.

 
 
         
Contact:
Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd
1st Floor, Stabilitas House
265 Kent Ave, Randburg, 2194
South Africa
Publications by Technews
Dataweek Electronics & Communications Technology
Electronics Buyers’ Guide (EBG)

Hi-Tech Security Solutions
Hi-Tech Security Business Directory

Motion Control in Southern Africa
Motion Control Buyers’ Guide (MCBG)

South African Instrumentation & Control
South African Instrumentation & Control Buyers’ Guide (IBG)
Other
Terms & conditions of use, including privacy policy
PAIA Manual





 

         
    classic | mobile

Copyright © Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd. All rights reserved.