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8. FLIGHT TESTING

Continued intensive research and testing of acoustic shaping is planned for the year 2000, including:

  1. Short-duration Reduced-Gravity Flight Tests

  2. Acoustic Shaping technology has been developed through 3 years of flight testing in reduced gravity, through the NASA Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program. Through these tests, the following steps have been achieved:
    1. Demonstration of wall formation with arbitrary-shaped particles in microgravity.
    2. Demonstration of the effect of the frequency of g-jitter on the wall formation process.
    3. Qualitative and quantitative matching of observed wall shapes to predicted shapes.
    4. Demonstration of walls made of space-age materials such as hollow aluminum spheres and hollow aluminum oxide spheres.
  1. Ground experiments

  2. Ground experiments have demonstrated the potential of using liquid sheets, and liquid sprays as binders. This opens up opportunities for manufacturing on low gravity planets and moons in addition to orbital facilities.
  3. Testing on Sounding Rockets

  4. The next stage in the flight test program is to use sounding rockets, which will enable microgravity durations on the order of minutes, followed by a gentle recovery. This will enable testing of experiments involving the hardening of shapes, involving binders that are initially in liquid state. During 2000, we propose to develop the experiment to the level where it can be flown on a sounding rocket, and to identify opportunities to participate in such testing. The present plan is to propose such flight tests to the sounding rocket programs conducted in Maryland, Alaska and New Mexico. As part of the flight test program, we are reducing the flight experiments to several compact, light, and highly automated packages.

    During 2000, we also plan to make progress towards space flight experiment by getting to understand the paperwork, as well as the spaceflight hazard elimination processes.
     

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