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Wireless Sensor Network Hardware Passes Soarex-8 Flight Qualification Thermal Vacuum Test
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Wireless Sensor Network Hardware Passes Soarex-8 Flight Qualification Thermal Vacuum Test

The Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) hardware passed its first flight qualification test during Thermal VACuum (TVAC) testing in the Electronics Evaluation Lab at Ames Research Center. The WSN will be flown aboard the Sub-Orbital Aerodynamic Reentry EXperiments (SOAREX-8) flight and will monitor aerodynamic pressure and temperature on the exo-brake. SOAREX-8 will fly this summer.

The WSN hardware must perform well during the rapid pressure change encountered during ascent to 350 Km altitude and concurrent reduction of ambient temperature. The TVAC test simulates ascent conditions by pumping down the pressure very rapidly, holding at near vacuum for over an hour – first cooling to 0 C and then heating to 35 C before returning pressure to ambient air, simulating reentry. The WSN was active during the entire pressure/temperature profile and functional monitoring was performed using radio signals from the network, requiring no data feed from the vacuum chamber. Every element functioned well and produced data reflecting chamber conditions, validating the sensors in the process.

BACKGROUND: The SOAREX-8 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 the primary experiment is deployment of a hypersonic exo-brake – a parachute-like structure intended to slowdown reentry for sample return.

TEAM: Richard Alena, Ray Gilstrap, Ali Guarneros Luna, Marcus Murbach, Gabriel Pearman, Ryan Rivas, and Thom Stone

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: Funding for the WSN subsystem is provided by the NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC), Chief Scientist Daniel Winterhalter, and ARC Chief Engineer Nans Kunz

Contact: Rick Alena

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