- Composites Laboratory: Used to develop and test advanced composite materials for spacecraft structures.
View of Small Autoclave
Inside View of Large Autoclave
Side View of Large Autoclave
- Large, flight part prototyping size 1.8 meter diameter, 3 meter length, 454 degrees C maximum, 2068.5 kPa maximum
- Smaller, laboratory development size 0.45 meter diameter, 0.9 meter length, 45 degrees C maximum, 2068.5 kPa maximum
- Laboratory/work space
- Tooling development/fabrication
- Lay-up and vacuum bagging
- Coefficient of Thermal Expansion (CTE) Measurement
- Zero/low CTE strut fabrication
- Thermal/vacuum chamber with laser interferometer
- Fuels Testing Laboratory: Provides an off-site test laboratory with storage for compatibility testing of materials and propulsion propellants.
The fuels testing laboratory provides an off-site test laboratory with storage for compatibility testing of materials
and propulsion propellants. This facility is also designed to support the loading and off loading of propellants to and
from small spacecraft.
- Modal Survey Test Facility: Used to define the dynamic structural characteristics of a spacecraft.
Modal Survey Test Facility
The modal survey test facility provides the capability to
define the dynamic structural characteristics of a
spacecraft. The dynamic characteristics are in the form of
natural frequencies, damping ratios, and modal deformation patterns. The primary use of these data are
for refining and validating the stiffness and mass matrices
of a computer model of the structure. After the data are
acquired and analyzed, an image of the spacecraft on the
computer screen can be animated to allow visualization of
one or more vibration modes of the structure.
- Payload Processing Facility: Provides a central location for all auxiliary machinery and equipment used to assemble and test spacecraft systems, subsystems, and components.
Payload Processing Facility
The payload processing facility provides a central
location for all auxiliary machinery and equipment
used to assemble and test spacecraft systems,
subsystems, and components. The payload
processing facility consists of a comprehensive
laboratory complex housing a high bay (12 m high
ceiling) assembly area, a secure assembly area,
support facilities, storage area, lifting equipment,
fabrication machinery, and ground transportation
- Radio Frequency Anechoic Chamber Facility: Used to design, manufacture, and test spacecraft antenna systems.
Clementine Spacecraft in
The radio frequency anechoic chamber is used to design,
manufacture, and test spacecraft antenna systems. The facility
is also used for electromagnetic compatibility and
electromagnetic interferencetesting of spacecraft antenna
- Radio Frequency Compact Range Facility: Used for making antenna pattern and radar cross-section measurements.
Radio Frequency Compact Range
The radio frequency compact range facility is used for making
antenna pattern and radar cross-section measurements under
simulated far-field conditions where far-field measurements
would be prohibitive in terms of the real estate required for
the test range.
- Robotics Engineering and Control Laboratory:
Serves as a national test bed to support research in the emerging field of space robotics
including autonomous rendezvous and capture, remote assembly operations, and machine learning.
- Dual six degrees-of-freedom precision platforms
- Full three dimensional simulation of spacecraft autonomous rendezvous and docking under realistic dynamic conditions
- In-the-loop test of critical flight components, sensors, coupling mechanisms, and terminal-phase software
- National testbed for space robotic systems
- Autonomous rendezvous and docking
- On-orbit robotic assembly
- Machine learning systems
- Support to Defense Advanced Research Project Agency
- Space robotic demonstration
- Advanced concepts
- Smart Structures Research Laboratory: Used for
passive and active vibration isolation and suppression, precision shape and position control,
integrated health monitoring and sensing, and thermally stable composite structures.
Technologies and Projects
Smart Structures Laboratory
Ongoing Cooperation With the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)
- Passive and active vibration isolation and suppression
- Precision shape and position control
- Integrated health monitoring and sensing
- Thermally stable composite structures
- PZT struts have been used successfully for many experiments on NRL truss
- Integrated modeling (IMOS) and MACOS integrated modeling code developed by JPL is in house at NRL
- Microdynamic experiment and analysis has involved NRL participation
- IPEX-2 truss is modeled after NRL TRUSS
- AFRL and NRL participation in NRL colloquia for large apertures in space
- Joint proposals made
- Spacecraft Acoustic Reverberation Chamber Test Facility:
Simulates the vibration and high intensity acoustic noise environment experienced
by spacecraft structures and components during launch.
LACE Satellite in Acoustic
The acoustic reverberation chamber test facility is used to
simulate the vibration and high intensity acoustic noise
environment experienced by spacecraft structures and components
during launch. The acoustic reverberation chamber consists of a
283 cubic meter reverberant chamber constructed of highly
reinforced concrete designed to withstand an internal sound
pressure level of 170 dB. The chamber is 5 m wide, 6.5 m long,
and 8 m high and is accessed by a pedestrian door and a specimen
- Spacecraft Mechanical Inspection and Optical Alignment Facility: Used to inspect parts and verify dimensions and alignment of critical spaceflight hardware.
Coordinate Measuring Machine
The spacecraft mechanical inspection and optical alignment test
facility provides the capability to inspect parts and verify
dimensions and alignment of critical spaceflight hardware.
Levels of precision are typically to the ten thousandths of a
centimeter linear and one arc second angular.
- Spacecraft Propulsion System Welding Facility: Provides a clean environment for the fabrication, assembly, and test of propulsion hardware.
Propulsion System Welding Facility
The spacecraft propulsion system welding facility provides a
clean environment for the fabrication, assembly, and test of
contamination sensitive propulsion hardware assemblies for
spacecraft fluid subsystems using automatic orbital welding
- Spacecraft Spin Test Facility: Used to test and correct spacecraft balance.
Spin Test Facility
The spacecraft spin test facility is used to test and correct
spacecraft balance using either dynamic or static/coupled
measurement techniques to force the spin axis to the desired
principle axis of the satellite and to verify the moments of
inertia on large capacity moment of inertia tables.
- Spacecraft Static Test Loads Facility: Used to verify structural design requirements.
Clementine Interstage Adapter
Undergoing Static Testing
The static test loads facility provides the capability to
perform static loads tests on space vehicles and their
subsystems to demonstrate that structural design requirements
have been achieved. The static test loads facility is housed in
the Payload Processing Facility
. It can test both small (2.25 kg)
and large (17,236 kg) articles.
- Spacecraft Vibration Test Facility: Simulates the various loading environments imposed on spacecraft hardware.
Vibration Test Facility
The spacecraft vibration test facility is used to qualify and
accept spacecraft and spacecraft components by simulating the
various loading environments imposed on hardware and
demonstrating compliance to design specifications. Using the
facility's electrodynamic shakers, quasi-static, vibrational,
and shock loads can be generated and test article
characteristics can be quantified via sine sweep testing.
- Structural Sensing and Attitude Control Laboratory (RESHAPE): Used to study satellite attitude control design and develop methods for jitter suppression of deployed spacecraft sensors, booms, and solar panels.
The structural sensing and attitude control laboratory is used
to study satellite attitude control design and to develop
methods for jitter suppression of deployed spacecraft sensors,
booms, and solar panels. The laboratory includes a unique
spherical air bearing platform, the Reconfigurable Spacecraft
Host for Attitude and Pointing Experiments (RESHAPE), used to
test spacecraft slewing maneuvers and attitude control
methodologies before implementation on flight vehicles.
- Thermal Vacuum Chamber Facility: Simulates the high vacuum and varying thermal conditions that spacecraft encounter.
Large Thermal Vacuum Chamber,
Affectionately Known as "Big Blue"
Medium Size Thermal Vacuum Chambers
The thermal vacuum chamber facility provides a comprehensive
environmental test complex that is specifically designed to
simulate the high vacuum and varying thermal conditions that
spacecraft encounter. The facility consists of a large test
chamber (5.5 m diameter and 9.75 m long), two medium test
chambers (2.5 m diameter and 3 m high), three small test
chambers (0.5 m diameter and 0.5 m high), a machinery room, a
network of computers, a 98,420 litre liquid nitrogen storage
facility, and an assortment of handling fixtures and cranes for
ground transport of payloads.
- Two-Phase Thermal Laboratory: Used to investigate and qualify the thermal performance of advanced two-phase devices.
Sol-Gel Loop Heat Pipe,
NRL Loop Heat Pipe
Small TV Chamber,
Sol-Gel Loop CPL/LHP
Wick Test Station
- Investigate/qualify thermal performance of advanced two-phase devices:
- Heat pipes
- Capillary Pumped Loops (CPLs)
- Phase-Change Materials (PCMs)
- Develop and demonstrate new concepts to improve heat capacity, weight, and size of future thermal control systems
- CPL/LHP testbeds
- CPL3 Development loop
- CPL metal wick test loop
- Sol-Gel loop heat pipe
- NRL (nickel wick) loop heat pipe
- Advanced-CPL (A-CPL) demonstration testbed
- Wick test station
- CPL/LHP charging station
- Thermal vacuum chambers