SpaceX Orders Multiple Vibration Controller Systems from Crystal Instruments

Crystal Instruments Corporation recently received a large order from SpaceX for multiple high channel count vibration control systems. Each vibration control system will be bundled with advanced application software. This is thus far the biggest contract awarded to Crystal Instruments by SpaceX. During the procurement process, SpaceX engineers conducted detailed reviews of products from Crystal Instruments and compared those with options from several different providers. The final decision made was based on the availability of functions, actual testing performance, and the capability of onsite support.

Crystal Instruments (CI) is a leading worldwide manufacturer of systems and software for machine monitoring, dynamic measurement, vibration testing, and acoustic testing. CI’s products are used for machine diagnosis, design verification, product testing and process improvement by manufacturers of all types of electronic and mechanical products.

Crystal Instruments’ 4th generation vibration control systems are based on the latest hardware design, which is capable of supporting large channel count systems with up to hundreds input channels. Its DSP-centralized architecture greatly increases the control performance, system reliability, and failure protection. The high precision analog input channel provides single-ended, differential, IEPE modes, and supported TEDS transducers. The industrial proven network connection allows the distributed structure of the system hardware. The IEEE 1588 Precision Time Protocol (PTP) guarantees the high accuracy of time synchronization within 50 ns, which is better than 1 degree phase match up to 20 kHz across the channels of the complete system. Using Crystal Instruments’ patented parallel dual ADC design, a superb dynamic range of 150 dB or better is achieved, which defines the high accuracy of CI’s VCS systems.

Crystal Instruments’ Vibration Controller Systems

Crystal Instruments’ Vibration Controller Systems

In the aerospace industry, Dynamic (or Vibration) Testing is carried out extensively in design certification of aerospace systems [1]. It serves the purpose to not only characterize the dynamic behavior but also to verify the performance of structures built according to specifications, ensuring it meets the design requirement. The types of dynamic testing employed may vary per the expected environment that the vehicle and components will be exposed to.

The primary purpose of dynamic tests for the aerospace system is to simulate the flight dynamic environments. These environments are typically so severe that usually they would cause the failure of many electronic components, mechanisms, optics, and structures if these items were not designed to survive. These high levels of vibration and sound are generated by the launch vehicle dynamics, acoustics, and sources such as the firing of pyrotechnic devices or the impact of landing on another planet. The method of testing for these factors is to simulate the flight environment as much as possible. The following figure illustrates various dynamic tests done for the certification purpose.

Figure: Aerospace System Vibration Test for Certification [1]

Figure: Aerospace System Vibration Test for Certification [1]

Test articles include components, sub-assembly, major assembly, and vehicle. Prototype and/or Proto-flight will be undergoing the Development Testing, Qualification Testing, and Acceptance Testing stages. At each testing stage, Flight testing, Modal Testing, Acoustic Testing, Sinusoidal Testing, Random Testing, or Shock Testing will be performed.

Crystal Instruments is a premium supplier of vibration testing, acoustic testing, and analysis solutions. The VCS software suite provides all necessary control test types (e.g., Random, Random on Random, Sine on Random, Sine, Shock, Time Waveform Replication, etc). A comprehensive offering of Dynamic Signal Analyzer analysis applications is also available (e.g., FFT analysis, FRF analysis, Modal testing/analysis, Real Time Octave analysis, Order Tracking analysis, Sine Reduction analysis, etc). Crystal Instruments provides its customer with the optimum solution needed for any type of vibration and sound related task. Crystal Instruments has been expanding its customer list consistently throughout various industries. To further expand the applications for highly special customized usage, Crystal Instruments’ VCS controller and DSA analyzer can be directly accessed from LabVIEW, MATLAB, Python, and etc., software platforms.

Crystal Instruments’ Vibration Controller System in Action

Crystal Instruments’ Vibration Controller System in Action

SpaceX designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. The company was founded in 2002 to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.

SpaceX has gained worldwide attention for a series of historic milestones. It is the only private company ever to return a spacecraft from low-Earth orbit, which it first accomplished in December 2010. The company made history again in May 2012 when its Dragon spacecraft attached to the International Space Station, exchanged cargo payloads, and returned safely to Earth — a technically challenging feat previously accomplished only by governments. Since then the Dragon has delivered cargo to and from the space station multiple times, providing regular cargo resupply missions for NASA.

SpaceX aims to launch an un-crewed Mars mission as early as 2018. More recently, SpaceX proposed a plan to launch a total of 4,425 satellites into low-earth orbits. This ambitious project will deliver roughly three times the number of current active satellites that are in orbit.

More details about Crystal Instruments and its renowned vibration control system

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Reference: [1] Pravin K. Aggarwal, NASA - Marshall Space Flight Center, Dynamic (Vibration) Testing: Design-Certification of Aerospace System