The scope of hydraulics on the earth surface is always emerging and different studies are ongoing to explore its future scopes also. But, when considering the hydraulic implementation in space, most of the audience are unaware and curious to learn the facts. The truth is hydraulics can be used in space and more facts related to this are mentioned in this article.
The implementation of hydraulics in space is not as simple as that on the earth surface. It is a little bit complicated. This is because of vacuum, enormous temperature variations and lack of gravity experienced in space. Also, fluid leakage in space is a serious concern that can damage optical and electrical instruments.
The Juno mission of NASA that studies the magnetic field of Jupiter is one of the important mission with hydraulics for both ground and space applications. The hydraulic applications in NASA missions can be implemented as auxiliary power units on space shuttles and ground equipment that helps to leave earth’s orbit. Most of the applications of hydraulics in missile launching system are previously discussed and here noted are where hydraulics is implemented in space.
When considering hydraulics in the Deep Sea Network(DSN) of NASA, you can find three satellite parabolic antennas that are positioned in Earth’s strategic points to send and receive signals from Juno. To precisely position these antenna’s by adjusting the hydraulic cylinder, high-performance motors are used. This is just a simple hydraulic application in the ground station. Other hydraulic equipment are also used in ground stations to control the missile while launching.
Next, we can examine where hydraulics is implemented in space shuttles? It will be a great loss if the extremely high force and accurate control offered by hydraulics are not utilized in space. Space shuttle uses three independent hydraulic systems to serve as backup power generators. The three power generators are interconnected in such a way that doesn’t cause an entire system failure when any one of the systems fails. These hydraulic systems are used for controlling the hydraulic actuator to thrust vector control of main engines, main and nose landing gear deployment, propellant control of various main engine valves, main landing gear brakes and anti-skid & nose steer. The force generated with hydraulics and small size are key features of hydraulics that popularize hydraulics.
The hydraulic system in space shuttle will contain components like the main hydraulic pump, hydraulic bootstrap accumulator, hydraulic/ Freon-21 heat exchanger, hydraulic filters, hydraulic reservoir, control valves, and electrical circulation pump. There are space applications that utilize both open and closed hydraulic systems. Closed systems are preferred in common hydraulic applications. But, most space applications will prefer open systems to eliminate the use of pumps that consumes greater energy. In these open systems, a tank of nitrogen like gases is used for pressurizing fluid.