Press Release

A NASA engineer is looking to cut the time spent in the design and testing of spacecraft, bearing in mind NASA’s tight schedule for the Artemis program and future missions to Mars. Aerospace Engineer Nettie Roozeboom recently defined the new idea that involves linking two NASA facilities, an analysis lab, and an aeronautics testing site, bridging the two cutting-edge technological hubs for faster processing. Her revolutionary idea was tested during the tests of NASA’s Space Launch System(SLS).

Roozeboom works at the Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel in Ames Research Center based at Silicon Valley, California, where she assists aerospace engineers from government agencies like NASA or private companies to test their vehicles’ performance in a simulated flight environment. She has successfully pioneered the tests of many air and space vehicles, including Boeing’s ‘green’ aircraft concept and a launch-abort system to help astronauts land safely in case of a launch malfunction. Meanwhile, at the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) facility, also located at Ames, scientists and engineers are fast at work, analyzing terabytes of data and performing complex simulations using powerful supercomputers.

The two facilities share a real-time connection, a concept that could prove vital soon. Aerospace engineers had previously been forced to carry data from the testing facility, usually many terabytes in a stack of hard drives, back to their facility for analysis. A common problem that arose would be missing data or further research requirements, which forced the teams to book another testing date, which is not easy to secure since the testing facilities are in high demand.

Roozeboom’s system, she anticipates, would be particularly useful given NASA’s schedule for a human-crewed mission before 2024.  Heavy traffic is also expected from the major American companies working in collaboration with NASA to deliver payloads to space, she added, saying that she takes it upon herself to create the necessary tools and liaise with the right personnel to save a lot of time.

The plan was tested in September 2019 using the SLS, the spacecraft set to fly the Orion to the Gateway, a lunar orbiting station. Aspects of the design tested included testing the rocket’s fairing made to transfer cargo to deep space. Roozeboom helped measure the effect of air pressure as the rocket pushes through the atmosphere to space. The test was made possible using paint sensitive to pressure changes whose fluctuations were recorded by high-speed cameras and sent to NAS real-time. The supercomputer at NAS processed and almost immediately displayed the results visually, enabling scientists viewing them on a 1/4 billion-pixel hyper wall to communicate back to Ames instantly. 

This post was originally published on The Picayune Current