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Aerospace Design Tactics to create Light yet Effective Machinery

December 2nd, 2014

Antifragility is a concept where an entity actually gains from suffering an adverse event. As an example, consider the mythological beast, the Hydra, who is able to grow back two heads when one gets chopped off. Applying antifragile techniques to aircraft design brings the potential for safer airplanes with the improved ability to react to catastrophic events when they occur.

Let’s take a closer look at these engineering innovations aimed at improving passenger safety.

Supporting an Iterative Design Process

The iterative nature of the aircraft engineering design process reflects antifragility concepts when it comes to terms like “fail-safe” and “damage tolerant.” As engineers work their way through testing aircraft designs, the parts of a design that work are retained, while failures are removed. This iterative process is known as stochastic tinkering.

Testing remains a vital aspect of the stochastic tinkering used in aerospace engineering. The worse case scenarios must be tested and retested, while engineers document the in-stress performance of components that must not fail compared against those other components which can fail due to the redundancies that were part of the aircraft’s initial design.

Visual Inspections still Important in the Aircraft Industry

Even when leveraging design techniques like antifragility and stochastic tinkering, certain airplane components can incur a certain level of structural failure while still maintaining flight safety and security. In these situations, it is important that any critical damage is visible to airplane inspectors performing a pre-flight check up.

Additionally, when performing load testing, it is vital to increase the load factors to account for the potential of catastrophic events — both known and unknown. Still, it is up to the aerospace engineer to analyze the cause of any catastrophe and feed what they learned back into that same design and testing process. Safe flight using antifragile aircraft is the ultimate goal of this engineering discipline.

If you are inspired to improve your aerospace engineering career, talk to The Talley Group. As one of the top engineering staffing agencies in Washington, they are a great source of Seattle aerospace engineering jobs. Make it a point to talk with The Talley Group today!

Falcon 9 Rocket | Aerospace Technology System

January 7th, 2013

Space X is the first commercial company in history to visit the International Space Station. The company builds satellites, launchers and other products that are placed safely in space. One of its greatest products is the Falcon launch family of rockets.

Falcon 9 is a launchable rocket powered by liquid oxygen and rocket grade kerosene. Its third flight is the journey that allowed the company to reach the International Space Station.

The Falcon 9 measures 69.2 m or 227 ft in length and 3.6 m or 12 ft in width. Figure 9 is a rocket that can carry spacecraft into the atmosphere by launch.

Designed for maximum reliability, the Falcon 9 runs from two stages and tanks. The first tank is made from aluminum lithium alloy and uses an all-friction stir-welded tank of the highest strength and most reliable welding technique available. The interstage is a carbon fiber aluminum core composite structure, and connects the upper and lower stages.

The second stage tank is a similar, yet shorter version of the first tank, created with the same reliable materials and manufacturing. Since a single engine powers the upper stage of the  Falcon 9, it is made of dual redundant pyrophoric igniters.

The main engine of the Falcon 9 is the Space X Merlin engine. It has a very impressive Sea Level and Vacuum thrust. The system works by propellant feeding into a single shaft, as a dual impeller turbo-pump operating on a gas generator cycle. The pump provides high-pressure kerosene for the hydraulic actuators, which recycles. This eliminates the need for a separate hydraulic system, allowing for greater reliability.

The Merlin is one of the greatest and most powerful engines ever built. It outperforms even the Boeing Delta II’s main engine.

The best part of the Falcon 9 is its penchant for safety. It is not released for flight until all vehicle systems are confirmed to be operating on par. An automatic shut-off occurs if any irregular conditions are detected. This saves those going into space, and the vehicles themselves, from some of the unfortunate disasters various programs dealt with in the past.

You can get one of these pretty toys for $54 million.

The Talley Group believes in working with companies that achieve engineering excellence. Call us today! If you know a aerospace engineer looking for a challenging project, refer an engineer today.

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