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Drexel Space Systems Awarded NASA Contract

June 4, 2012

Drexel University’s Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics department, in conjunction with American Aerospace Advisors, Inc. and The NASTAR® Center has been awarded a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I contract by NASA. The partnership’s aim is to investigate, “Integrated Vibration and Acceleration Testing to Reduce Payload Mass, Cost and Mission Risk,” with the goal of developing a platform to reduce stresses on mission-critical payloads, such as satellites, during launch.

During a rocket launch, payloads experience extreme stress from G-forces and severe vibrations. In order to ensure that they function while in orbit they must be built to withstand the violent ride in to space. Dr. Jin Kang of the Drexel Space Systems Laboratory hopes that examining the stresses placed on a satellite in a controlled setting will allow designers to build lighter, more durable satellites in the future.

Kang and his team at the Drexel Space Systems Laboratory will spearhead the physical research. Their goal is to recreate the G-forces and vibrations incurred during launch by placing Drexel’s Dragon Sat-1 satellite on a vibration table inside of a centrifuge. They will run their primary testing at NASTAR Center’s Phoenix Centrifuge in Southampton, PA this fall. 

David Yodel, CEO of American Aerospace Advisors believes the testing could aid in reducing payload risk for future missions and could have large implications for the space industry. The contract builds upon a previous proof of concept presented to NASA by AAAI and The NASTAR Center in 2008. The Phase I award is for $124,214 dollars. If awarded, a Phase II contract would be worth more than a million dollars and the partnership will move forward with larger scale tests in the future.