8. FLIGHT TESTING
Continued intensive research and testing
of acoustic shaping is planned for the year 2000, including:
Short-duration Reduced-Gravity Flight
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:
Demonstration of wall formation with arbitrary-shaped
particles in microgravity.
Demonstration of the effect of the frequency
of g-jitter on the wall formation process.
Qualitative and quantitative matching
of observed wall shapes to predicted shapes.
Demonstration of walls made of space-age
materials such as hollow aluminum spheres and hollow aluminum oxide spheres.
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.
Testing on Sounding Rockets
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
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.