Flotron’s SFP-635 Series Rotation Fixture

Flotron supported Johns Hopkins APL with cleanroom compatible SFP-635 rotation fixtures that support assembly, integration, and test activities for NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission. The SFP-635 rotation fixture has a 335 lb load rating considering SFy = 3 and SFu = 5, electrostatic grounding features, electroless nickel plated parts, a 15° index plate can be physically pinned to the vertical upright to lockout the rotation axis, P8 mounting interfaces, and a finish option compatible in a CLASS 10K (ISO 7) clean room environments.

Learn more about Flotron’s SFP-635 Series Rotation Fixture product line.

On May 15, the primary structure for NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft returned to Johns Hopkins APL. Now equipped with its chemical propulsion system and elements of its electrical propulsion system – installed at Aerojet Rocketdyne in Redmond, Washington – the spacecraft will remain at APL through final assembly and prelaunch testing.

The DART mission is NASA’s demonstration of kinetic impactor technology, impacting an asteroid to adjust its speed and path. DART will be the first-ever space mission to demonstrate asteroid deflection by kinetic impactor.

Flotron’s 700 Series with an Electromechanical Lift

Flotron’s 700 Series Rotation Fixtures can now be ordered with an Electromechanical Lift Option with push button control that is compatible in clean room environments. A battery option is also available.

Caltech Astronomy Is Assembling & Testing the Fiber Positioning Robot Modules for the Subaru Telescope.

A module from the Subaru Prime Focus Spectrograph (PFS) at Caltech Astronomy is supported by a Flotron 202 benchtop Rotation Fixture during assembly, integration and test operations. Each module consists of (quantity 57) Ø7.7mm x 10 cm long fiber positioning robots, nicknamed “Cobra”. Each robot supports an optical fiber and functions to drive the fiber to its commanded position within a patrol region of approximately Ø9.5mm. Establishing a patrol region for each fiber eliminates the potential for tangling of the fibers. Each fiber (approximately 65 meters in length) is a conduit of light collected at the focal plane and delivered to the spectrographs located in a room next to the telescope. The finished spectrograph system will incorporate 42 of these modules (laid out in a hexagonal shape) and contain 2,394 fiber positioners capable of simultaneous observation of up to 2,394 targets at one time, a technology breakthrough.

Image of the Subaru Telescope at Mauna Kea Summit, Hawaii

Flotron’s 202 Benchtop Rotation Fixture has a 130 lbs load rating considering SFy = 2 and SFu = 3. Trunnion lock knobs on the end frame bearing housings eliminate backlash in the system. Additionally, a 15° index plate can be physically pinned to the vertical upright to lockout the rotation axis. Standard interfaces include either mounting plates or angle mounts. The standard finish option is compatible in a CLASS 10K clean room environment. The end frames are powder coated Flotron blue and the gearbox is wet painted Flotron blue. All of the moving parts and hardware are zinc plated. An ESD ground lug can be utilized for compatibility in electro-statically protected areas. Learn more about Flotron’s 200 Series Benchtop Rotation Fixture product line.

Cantilevered Satellite Integration Fixture

There are cases where spacecraft integration requires an access hole thru the payload mounting interface. This access may be required for instrument integration, propulsion integration, spacecraft wiring … etc. To provide a scale of the size of the Flotron represented in the image below, the available payload swing diameter (as measured from the rotation centerline) is Ø110″ and the ID of the slew ring is approximately Ø54″. This cantilevered satellite integration fixture can support high moment and radial loads considering SFy = 3 and SFu = 5 in addition to a simultaneous (horizontal and vertical) dynamic loading condition. The resultant stability (with payload integrated) is 0.75G. The payload can be rotated 360° either by hand crank or by interfacing with a socket and electric hand drill. The gear drive is self-locking and non-back-driving with minimal backlash and the index plate on the input shaft can be physically pinned. The payload mounting interface dimensions and tolerances were specified by our customer.

The finishes are compatible in a CLASS 10K clean room spacecraft manufacturing environment (no zinc, tin, or cadmium) and the lubricants were selected for compatibility. Covers were added over the geared slew ring and pinion gear to eliminate pinch points and to mitigate lubricant migration. The operator can maneuver the Rotation Fixture by the push bar or the tow bar. Forklift tube pockets have been incorporated at the rear to lift the Flotron (with the payload integrated) as well as at the side to handle the empty Flotron. The caster wheel material and geometry were specified to optimize rollability. Additional features include leg bumpers, relevant caution labels, angular indicator labels, and a storage container. Flotron fabricated a 2X proof load test simulator that represents 200% payload weight, 200% resultant moment and 100% torque. Flotron performed a proof load test with the payload simulator integrated when supported by the casters as wells as when lifted with a forklift. Weld inspection of critical welds (as defined by Flotron Engineering) was performed using an Eddy Current inspection method through the powder coat finish.

Customer Review:

The spacecraft mated to the Flotron fixture, all features were exercised to the delight of our customer and it is working excellent! Thank you again for the fine craftsmanship that your team delivered on.

Planetary Resources’ Arkyd-6 Spacecraft Is Assembled & Tested

Planetary Resources’ Arkyd-6 Spacecraft is assembled and tested on a Flotron 212 Benchtop Rotation Fixture and then inspected in the cleanroom at the Redmond Washington facility. Arkyd 6 will test systems that will be used in the Arkyd 200 asteroid exploration mission with a target launch date of 2020. The first target asteroid resource will be water, which can be split into hydrogen and oxygen using solar energy and used as a fuel source for spacecraft. Luxembourg recently offered a legal and regulatory framework relating to the authorization, supervision, ownership and utilization of valuable space resources identified and extracted on celestial bodies by private operators.

Planetary Resources, Seattle

Flotron’s 212 Benchtop Rotation Fixture has a 130 lbs load rating considering SFy = 2 and SFu = 3. The gearbox is self-locking and non-back-driving and is sealed and pressure tested. Trunnion lock knobs on the end frame bearing housings eliminate backlash in the system. Additionally, a 15° index plate can be physically pinned to the vertical upright to lockout the rotation axis. Standard interfaces include either mounting plates or angle mounts. The “C” finish option is compatible in a CLASS 1K clean room environment. The end frames are powder coated gloss white and the gearbox is wet painted gloss white. All of the moving parts and hardware are either electro-less nickel plated or stainless steel. The lubricant in the trunnion bearings is Krytox-GPL207, however can be replaced with Braycote 601EF or other customer approved option. An ESD ground lug can be utilized for compatibility in electro-statically protected areas. Learn more about Flotron’s 200 Series Benchtop Rotation Fixture product line.

SDL Performing Payload I&T Activities for the ICON Observatory

Space Dynamics Laboratory (SDL) performing payload integration & test activities for the ICON Observatory Spacecraft using a Flotron Rotation Fixture. ICON is scheduled to launch 12/08/2017. ICON will explore how both earth weather and space weather in the ionosphere affect global positioning satellites and radio communications. As of 10/16, the solar arrays are stowed and pre-ship testing is almost complete. Orbital ATK is preparing for integration with the Pegasus launch vehicle at Vandenberg AFB towards the end of October.

An off-the-shelf 700 series Rotation Fixture is shown below supporting the integration activities and provides adequate swing clearance without sacrificing ergonomic operating height. The rating of this Engineered solution considers the appropriate dynamic loading condition and safety factors. The Flotron is compatible in an ISO 6, CLASS 1K clean room environment. All of the moving parts and hardware are either electro-less nickel plated or stainless steel. The end frames are finished with gloss white powder coat. Compatible lubricants have been specified. The gearbox is sealed and pressure tested. Leveling jacks have been incorporated to level the Flotron on uneven floors and help to stabilize the fixture. The caster wheels were selected to maximize rollability while considering payload sensitivity during transport. Learn more about Flotron’s 700 series rotation fixtures.

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) Camera System

TESS will perform a two year survey of the 200,000 brightest stars in the sky to monitor changes in brightness caused by planetary transits occurring outside of our solar system.  The goal being to identify smaller planets orbiting bright stars, good candidates for new earths and super earths, which can be further characterized along with their atmospheres.  MIT Lincoln Labs is providing the Four Wide Field-of-View (24° x 24°) CCD Cameras, Orbital ATK builds and operates the LEOStar-2 spacecraft, NASA GSFC is providing project management, systems engineering and safety/mission assurance and the TESS Spacecraft will be launched into high earth orbit (HEO) on a SpaceX Falcon 9 Full Thrust rocket. 

Flotron 700 Series Rotation Fixture:
An off-the-shelf 700 series Rotation Fixture is shown below supporting the integration activities and provides adequate swing clearance without sacrificing ergonomic operating height.  This rating of this Engineered solution considers the appropriate dynamic loading condition and safety factors.  The Flotron is compatible in an ISO 6, CLASS 1K clean room environment.  All of the moving parts and hardware are either electro-less nickel plated or stainless steel.  The end frames are finished with gloss white powder coat.  Compatible lubricants have been specified.  The gearbox is sealed and pressure tested.  Leveling jacks have been incorporated to level the Flotron on uneven floors and help to stabilize the fixture.  The caster wheels were selected to maximize rollability while considering payload sensitivity during transport.  Additional details about Flotron’s 700 Series Rotation Fixtures can be found at www.flotron.com/products/700-series.

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Flotron Mid-Size Satellite Positioner Supporting JPSS-1 at Vandenberg AFB

The NASA/NOAA JPSS-1 Satellite designed and built by Ball Aerospace Begins Final Preflight Processing at Vandenberg AFB.  The global data from Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) will be used in numerical weather prediction models to help forecast extreme weather events and improve public warnings.  The satellite was assembled, transported to the launch site and then upended to the vertical orientation using a Flotron Satellite Positioner where it will be prepared for launch and integrated with the ULA Delta II launch vehicle.

Flotron Design Considerations:
Flotron’s Mid-Size Satellite Positioner is designed to minimize risk to high value hardware by keeping the Space Vehicle (SV) on the same tool throughout processing activities.  The SV can be lifted with an overhead and mounted to the Flotron interface in the vertical orientation, tilted down to provide technicians ergonomic access to all sides during integration and test activities, transported in this orientation through the facility to the shipping container via the tow bar and wheeled casters where it is loaded into the shipping container and transported by truck or air to the launch site.  At which point, the Flotron with SV can be unloaded from the shipping container, rolled into the high bay, tilted vertically for final preflight processing and integrated with the launch vehicle.  The overhung moment capacity of this Flotron Satellite Positioner is on the order of 750,000 in-lbs considering appropriate dynamic load factors and safety factors.

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Small Satellite Cantilevered Rotation Fixture Application

MIT / Lincoln Labs developed, built and prepared for launch the 113 kg, 1.5 meter long ORS-5 SensorSat Space Situational Awareness Small Satellite.  A Flotron CTL-36 Small Satellite Cantilevered Rotation Fixture, part of Flotron’s CTL series, provided the MIT/LL team with ergonomic access during Assembly, Integration and Test operations.  ORS-5 (Sensorsat) is a Low Earth Orbit satellite with optical imaging payload that will monitor potential threats to space assets in the geostationary (GEO) belt.  All of the satellite components (minus the optical imaging payload) were attained from commercial spaceflight hardware suppliers to keep cost down.  ORS-5 utilizes the GeOST (Geometry Optimized Space Telescope) concept, established at MIT Lincoln Labs.  GeOST allows a small detector in low earth orbit to achieve greater imaging sensitivity and discern between celestial objects and resident space objects by pointing the spacecraft’s imager at the GEO Belt at an angle perpendicular to its velocity vector while ensuring that the velocity vectors of both the imager and the space asset are aligned.

Flotron CTL-36 Load Capacity and Design Considerations:
The Flotron CTL-36 load capacity is 3,000 lbs considering a payload CG located at up to 30” out from the interface mounting plate.  Flotron considers a simultaneous dynamic loading condition of 0.5G horizontal (worst case direction) and 1.0G vertical for both stress and stability in addition to SFy = 3 and SFu =5.

Flotron CTL-36 Rotation:
The rotation axis is 36” above the floor and the swing radius is approximately 27.25”.  The gear ratio is 217:1 meaning that 217 turns on the input hand-wheel will result in one 360° rotation of the payload.  This system consists of a geared bearing that is secured to the vertical tower.  The Easy Crank torque of the gear system is approximately 7,200 in-lbs.   “Easy Crank” is a term defined by Flotron and specifies that the input load on the hand-crank is 12 lb or less for ergonomic operation.

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Flotron CTL-36 Interface:
The standard interface plate is 24”DIAM and has x20 Ø.531 thru holes on a 22” bolt circle.

Flotron CTL-36 Material, Finish and Lubricant: 
The frame is constructed from carbon steel material.  The frame and tow bar are powder coated gloss white and the gearbox is painted gloss white.  The steel interface plate is electro-less nickel plated.  The caster bodies are finished with satin e-nickel.  All of the fasteners/hardware are stainless steel, e-nickel plated or black oxide.  The caster swivel bearings are lubricated with Braycote 601EF.

Flotron CTL-36 Push Handle, Casters & Other Features:
A push handle is been integrated in the base frame and located at an ergonomic height for an operator to effectively maneuver the Flotron.  The casters have 6”dia phenolic wheels, tread lock brakes & bolt-on swivel locks that allow for safe and ergonomic transport.  A storage box has been integrated on the base frame to store customer tools, fasteners … etc.

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Ball Aerospace Delivers the JPSS-1 Weather Satellite to Launch Site

A Flotron Satellite Positioner transports the Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. (BATC) designed, manufactured and tested JPSS-1 NASA/NOAA next generation Weather Satellite to the launch site at Vandenberg AFB this week. The Flotron will upend the satellite vertically where it will be fueled and integrated with the launch vehicle. BATC will support launch operations and on-orbit checkout. JPSS-1 is currently scheduled to launch in November.

BOULDER, Colorado, September 5, 2017 — Ball Aerospace successfully delivered the Joint Polar Satellite System-1 (JPSS-1), NOAA’s next-generation polar orbiting weather satellite, to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Aug. 31, where it is scheduled to launch Nov. 10, 2017. This follows a successful pre-ship review with NASA at Ball’s Boulder, Colorado, manufacturing complex.

“The arrival of the spacecraft at Vandenberg is a tremendous milestone for the program and the culmination of excellent collaboration and hard work by the JPSS-1 team – NOAA, NASA, Ball, Harris, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman,” said Rob Strain, president, Ball Aerospace. “This advanced weather satellite will play a significant role in providing actionable environmental intelligence to decision makers in government and business, and to the general public.”

The JPSS series of polar-orbiting weather satellites will work as the foundation of NOAA’s operational environmental forecasting system for the next 20 years. The JPSS missions are funded by NOAA to provide global environmental data in low-Earth polar orbit. NASA is the acquisition agent for the flight systems, launch services and components of the ground segment.

JPSS data increases the timeliness and accuracy of numerical forecast models three to seven days in advance of severe weather events. These forecasts allow for early warnings and enable agency managers to make informed decisions to protect American lives and property.

The JPSS-1 satellite will host a suite of state-of-the-art instruments: Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS – Northrop Grumman), Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS – Harris), Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS – Raytheon), Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS – Ball), and Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES – Northrop Grumman).

Ball designed and built the JPSS-1 spacecraft, the Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite-Nadir instrument (OMPS), integrated all five of the satellite’s instruments, and is performing satellite-level testing and launch support. JPSS-1 will launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Following launch, JPSS-1 will join the Ball-built NOAA/NASA Suomi NPP satellite which has served as NOAA’s primary operational satellite for global weather observations since May 2014. Together, the two satellites, each circling the Earth 14 times per day, will provide global observations for U.S. weather and environmental predictions.