Design Considerations for a Launch Vehicle Development Flight Instrumentation System
AffiliationMarshall Space Flight Center
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AbstractWhen embarking into the design of a new launch vehicle, engineering models of expected vehicle performance are always generated. While many models are well established and understood, some models contain design features that are only marginally known. Unfortunately, these analytical models produce uncertainties in design margins. The best way to answer these analytical issues is with vehicle level testing. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration respond to these uncertainties by using a vehicle level system called the Development Flight Instrumentation, or DFI. This DFI system can be simple to implement, with only a few measurements, or it may be a sophisticated system with hundreds of measurement and video, without a recording capability. From experience with DFI systems, DFI never goes away. The system is renamed and allowed to continue, in most cases. Proper system design can aid the transition to future data requirements. This paper will discuss design features that need to be considered when developing a DFI system for a launch vehicle. It will briefly review the data acquisition units, sensors, multiplexers and recorders, telemetry components and harnessing. It will present a reasonable set of requirements which should be implemented in the beginning of the program in order to start the design. It will discuss a simplistic DFI architecture that could be the basis for the next NASA launch vehicle. This will be followed by a discussion of the "experiences gained" from a past DFI system implementation, such as the very successful Ares I-X test flight. Application of these design considerations may not work for every situation, but they may direct a path toward success or at least make one pause and ask the right questions.
SponsorsInternational Foundation for Telemetering