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2nd Generation Wireless Sensor Module Delivered to Wallops Flight Facility For SOAREX-9 Launch
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2nd Generation Wireless Sensor Module Delivered to Wallops Flight Facility For SOAREX-9 Launch

The second-generation Wireless Sensor Module (WSM) hardware and software passed its flight qualification tests this past week at the Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) in Virginia. Two WSMs will be flown aboard the Sub-Orbital Aerodynamic Reentry EXperiments (SOAREX-9) flight and will monitor aerodynamic pressure and temperature, and six-axis acceleration and rotation using high-precision digital sensors. Each WSM also supports two thermocouple channels for additional thermal measurements. SOAREX-9 is scheduled for launch on March 7, 2016, aboard a Terrier-Orion sounding rocket (41.114) sponsored by Paul De Leon of the Flight Opportunities Program. WSM technology is relevant to space vehicles, aircraft, and particularly to small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

The second-generation WSM hardware is significantly smaller than the WSM version flown aboard SOAREX-8 last year. WSM development is a cooperative effort between the University of Idaho, the Entry Systems Modeling Program, and the Intelligent Systems Division. Using the TI CC2538 System-on-a-Chip (SoC) technology to minimize size, volume, and power consumption, the WSM can run for weeks on a small coin-size battery. The housing is constructed using 3-D printing to support various mounting methods and safety inhibits. The Electronic Evaluation Lab at ARC was used for Radio Frequency (RF) characterization of the WSM, supporting its use as an unlicensed Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Part-15 device.

SOAREX-9 is a suborbital flight re-entry experiment into the Atlantic Ocean featuring a recoverable payload section, so that much of the flight hardware can be reused for a subsequent flight after thorough post-flight evaluation. The major mission objectives are to test the WSM, its host avionics system based on the Intel Edison (PhoneSat5) platform and a high-speed downlink based on the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) 802.11b WiFi. Ames developed all the PhoneSat5 and WSM software. The entire SOAREX-9 payload passed integration, vibration, and functional testing at WFF and is now ready to load aboard the sounding rocket.

BACKGROUND: The SOAREX project is part of the Flight Opportunities Program run out of Wallops Flight Facility and is supported by the NASA Sounding Rocket Program Office (NSRPO). The Ames Principal Investigator is Marcus Murbach, and SOAREX-9 is one of a series of suborbital payloads demonstrating novel atmospheric re-entry technology for International Space Station payloads – with application to small Mars companion missions as well.

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: Funding for the WSM subsystem is provided by the NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC), Chief Scientist Daniel Winterhalter, the ARC Center Innovation Fund, and the Entry Systems Modeling Program.

TEAM: Code TI: Richard Alena and Cedric Priscal; Code RD: Marcus Murbach, Austin Tanner, and Jon Wheless; Code IO: Ray Gilstrap and Thom Stone; Code QS: Ali Guarneros Luna; and Code PX: Chris Rogers


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