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flat h redundant frangible joint developmentOrion and Commercial Crew Program (CCP) Partners have chosen to use frangible joints for certain separation events. The joints currently available are zero failure tolerant and will be used in mission safety applications. The goal is to further develop a NASA designed redundant frangible joint that will lower flight risk and increase reliability. FY16 testing revealed a successful design in subscale straight test specimens that gained efficiency and supports Orion load requirements. Approach / Innovation A design constraint is that the redundant joint must fit within the current Orion architecture, without the need for additional vehicle modification. This limitation required a design that changed the orientation of the expanding tube assemblies (XTAs), by rotating them 90deg from the standard joint configuration. The change is not trivial and affects the fracture mechanism and structural load paths. To address these changes, the design incorporates cantilevered arms on the break plate. The shock transmission and expansion of the XTA applies force to these arms and creates a prying motion to push the plate walls outward to the point of structural failure at the notched section. The 2014 test design revealed that parts could slip during functioning wasting valuable energy needed to separate the structure with only a single XTA functioning. Dual XTA functioning fully separated the assembly showing a discrepancy can be backed up with redundancy. Work on other fully redundant systems outside NASA is limited to a few patents that have not been subjected to functionality testing Design changes to prevent unwanted slippage (with ICA funding in 2015) showed success with a single XTA. The main goal for FY 2016 was to send the new Flat H RFJ to WSTF where single XTA test failures occurred back in 2014. The plan was to gain efficiency in this design by separating the Flat H RFJ with thicker ligaments with dimensions baselined in 2014. Other modifications included geometry changes to better disperse loads paths and to minimize air gaps. The design additionally added more structural strength to enhance the structural limits in static loads testing. The design also implemented a smoother load line through the assembly. Results / Knowledge Gained The new Flat H RFJ successfully fractured at WSTF with thicker ligaments and lower cord size. Where failure to separate occurred earlier, there is now excessive energy available for structural separation. The new challenge to provide some structural support to prevent secondary fracturing of the break plate remains to be completed. This future work is being funded by the JSC Engineering Directorate in 2017 to elevate the TRL on curved Flat H RFJs that configure with the Orion Service Panel Separation. Additional funding from JSC Engineering will provide new design testing to avoid secondary fracturing.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Brown, Chris
(NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Date Acquired
February 7, 2017
Publication Date
January 1, 2016
Subject Category
Space Transportation and Safety
Structural Mechanics
Report/Patent Number
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.