NASA, the world-renowned space agency, has always been at the forefront of technological advancements, pushing the boundaries of what is possible. One such sponsored innovation is the Fail-Safe, Controllable Liquid Spring/Damper System, a project that was part of NASA's Small Business Innovation Research initiative. This project, aimed at improving rover space vehicle mobility, has now been successfully completed and is available for public viewing on NASA's TechPort platform.
In the ambitious endeavor to return to the moon and explore its vast surface, NASA identified a critical need for improved surface mobility. The challenges of varying vehicle weight, rough terrain, and long-duration missions necessitated a robust and adaptable vehicle suspension system.
Addressing this need, the Liquid Spring/Damper System was developed by Advanced Materials and Devices, Inc. (AMAD) as an adaptive solution. This innovative system replaced traditional mechanical springs and accumulators with a compressible fluid, acting as a liquid spring. This ingenious approach significantly reduced the overall weight and space requirements of the suspension system, with potential weight savings of over 20% and size savings of at least 40%.
The system's controllable damping force, facilitated by a fast-responding fluid system, allowed for independently controllable damping force on each wheel. This feature greatly enhanced the mobility of the exploration vehicle under different payload configurations, including cargo and possible crew.
Perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of this system is its fail-safe design. In the event of a power interruption or electronic failure, the system would revert to a regular passive suspension system component, ensuring the safety and continuity of the mission.
The successful completion of the Liquid Spring/Damper System project is a testament to NASA's commitment to technological innovation and exploration. The system's feasibility was demonstrated through rigorous environmental and quarter-car dynamic testing, paving the way for future advancements in space vehicle mobility.
For a more detailed look at this groundbreaking project, visit the project page on NASA's TechPort here.