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Gimbal Bearing Friction in the SLS Core Stage Thrust Vector Control SystemThe Space Launch System (SLS) Core Stage Thrust Vector Control (TVC) system is comprised of eight mechanical feedback Shuttle heritage Type III TVC actuators that vector the four Shuttle heritage RS-25 engines about a Shuttle heritage gimbal block/bearing. The MSFC Controls community has long regarded gimbal friction to be a negligible effect on the overall control of gimbaled RS-25 engines. This is corroborated by Space Shuttle test and flight data that does not appear to show degraded effects, nor limit cycling at the end of the shuttle flight. For this reason, friction was not expected to be a driving factor of performance and control of the reused RS-25 engines aboard the SLS. However, after test data showed a large shift in frequency behavior and a highly damped step-response in the time series, there was further investigation into what could have caused this behavior. Heritage friction models used in previous gimbal and ball bearings were evaluated such as Coulomb, Dahl and LuGre, but the single degree of freedom friction models alone were not enough to explain the behavior and shifts seen in the test data.

This paper presents the additional findings and modeling efforts regarding friction on the RS-25 engines. Using the Two Actuator Operational Simulation (TAOS), the difference from modeling separate friction degrees of freedom to coupled degrees of freedom was investigated to deduce the effects of one axis’s movement on the other. Next, due to the vibration environment, a modified LuGre model has been proposed that adds an additional term to decrease the friction coefficient at low engine velocity amplitudes. Lastly, the addition of the stiffness in each half of the gimbal bearing has increased modeling fidelity by also adding the effect on the gimbal bearing bending in compliance to both the friction torque on the surface of the gimbal bearing and the actuator force that is forcing the engine in a specified direction. Through these effects, the time and frequency domain behavior seen in test can be characterized accurately.
Document ID
Document Type
Colter Russell
(McLaurin Aerospace)
Jeb Orr
(McLaurin Aerospace)
Jeffrey Brouwer
Stephen Ryan
(Consolidated Program Support Services (CPSS PP&C))
Nathaniel Stepp
(Marshall Space Flight Center Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, United States)
Date Acquired
January 12, 2023
Subject Category
Spacecraft Design, Testing and Performance
Meeting Information
45th Rocky Mountain AAS GN&C Conference(Breckenridge, Colorado)
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
Technical Review
Single Expert
Structural Effects
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