Static component testing of a drive module with MGCplus

Towards the sun: On the way to Mercury

The BEPICOLOMBO mission: The European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japanese Space Agency ISAS/JAXA want to explore Mercury – with a drive module and two separate space probes that will orbit around the planet.

The qualification of the static component testing of the MTM drive module was recently completed; comprehensive HBM measurement technology was used.

The program for the BEPICOLOMBO mission was developed by EADS Astrium GmbH, in order to meet the requirements set by ESA. The main probe Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and the drive module Mercury Transfer Module (MTM) are being built by the ESA. Japan is contributing the sister probe Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO).

Drive module MTM on the test bench

The body responsible for the qualification of the static component testing for the MTM drive module was the Spanish Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (INTA).

The test method essentially simulates the envelope curve of the critical loads that act on the space platform during operation. On a multi-function test bench equipped with actuators, mechanical loads were applied to the main structure. The Spanish company EADS CASA Espacio was commissioned for this purpose.

Various sensors were placed at strategic positions around the structure: 202 strain gages, 24 displacement transducers and 8 inclinometers.

The displacement transducers were connected via CANHEAD® from HBM, the amplifier system for applications with distributed strain gages. The processing, measurement and monitoring of the data was implemented with the MGCplus data acquisition system from HBM.

Efficient measurement data acquisition with MGCplus

Multi-function test bench for testing the drive module

The digital measurement data acquisition of load, displacement, strain and stress signals is an essential component of the test program.

The data obtained can be used to check whether the measurement results agree with the calculated predictions. The calculation methods of finite element Models can be validated.

This allows test engineers to check the performance capability of the space platform structure under simulated operating conditions by putting their theoretical designs into practice.

The MGCplus data acquisition system has proven itself worldwide in various variants and numerous component tests. It delivers measurement data in high quality and simplifies the process.

While the qualification tests for the Ariane 5 program required large amounts of cables, the cabling outlay here is significantly less. MGCplus reduces outlay considerably and thereby reduces costs.

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