AffiliationACRA Control Inc.
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AbstractIn principle, the requirements for a flight test data acquisition system for space testing (launch vehicles, orbiters, satellites and International Space Station (ISS) installations) are very similar to those for more earth-bound applications. In practice, there are important environmental and operational differences that present challenges for both users and vendors of flight test equipment. Environmental issues include the severe vibration and shock experienced on take-off, followed by a very sharp thermal shock, culminating (for orbital vehicles) in a low temperature, low pressure, high radiation operating environment. Operational issues can include the need to dynamically adapt to changing configurations (for example when an instrumented stage is released) and the difficulty in Telemetering data during the initial launch stage from a vehicle that may not be recoverable, and therefore does not offer the option of an on-board recorder. Addressing these challenges requires simple, rugged and flexible solutions. Traditionally these solutions have been bespoke, specifically designed equipment. In an increasingly cost-conscious environment engineers are now looking to commercial off-the-shelf solutions. This paper discusses these solutions and highlights the issues that instrumentation engineers need to consider when designing or selecting flight test equipment.
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