Long Life, Fault Tolerant, Spacecraft Sensor Gimbal/Bearing System
Small Business Information
Route 108, Dover, NH, 03820
David J. Carroll
AbstractCurrent DoD sensor systems employ mechanical bearings in their gimbals to provide slow scan functionality. Mechanical bearings inherently possess a finite life and commonly suffer decreased reliability due to mechanical wear, excessive vibration and inadequate lubrication. The vacuum and temperature extremes of space provide significant technical challenges to these devices in life and pointing accuracy requirements due to stiction and non-repeatable runouts. Furthermore, they are completely unable to provide any vibration isolation to sensitive payloads.Recent advances in electromagnetic suspension and drive technology clearly lend themselves to application for significant improvement in gimbal mounting, promising greater gimbal life, lower weight and power, fault tolerance and vibration isolation. In particular, Airex Corporation, in a previous Phase I effort, has recently demonstrated the viability of two axis pointing using an electromagnetic suspension and integral motor bearing technology. Further, Airex has shown that integral motor-bearings, which use a single electromagnetic actuator to perform both the bearing and rotary pointing (motoring) functions, point the way to new gimbals that are highly reliable, low power, lubricant free, and long life. Such functional sophistication from a novel technology can expand performance in space-borne platforms from commercial or military spacecraft in communications, pointing or optical links.
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