The Interdisciplinary Consulting Corporation (IC2), in collaboration with the Interdisciplinary Microsystems Group at the University of Florida (UF), proposes to develop a wireless instrumentation system, including both data acquisition and sensors, that reduces the high costs and complexity of deployment, use, and maintenance of traditional centralized, wired instrumentation systems, while meeting the requirements of current rocket-propulsion ground testing applications and potentially other ground-based and in situ space-flight testing.
Traditional instrumentation systems and providers often promote a single type of general-purpose data-acquisition channel that can “do it all”, or at most a few different types of data channels targeting specific applications. However, few of the potentially hundreds of different types of sensors require the full capabilities of each channel in the general-purpose system. This results in bulky, overly complex systems that do not make full use of the system’s capabilities, resulting in increased cost, power consumption, and data communication requirements for the entire instrumentation system.
The proposed innovation replaces the centralized, high-cost, high-performance instrumentation system with a distributed network of wireless, low-cost, requirement-optimized smart sensor nodes. The requirement-optimized hardware, reduced deployment costs, improved data accuracy, and increased installation flexibility are provided by removing wiring constraints, creating a system with a higher total value per channel. The system also allows for continual sensor health monitoring by distributing some intelligence to each node and will ensure the data collected with the system will be NIST traceable. These innovations provide the customer with the ability to significantly increase the total number of deployed measurement points for less than the total system deployment cost of traditional wired instrumentation systems.
This system not only benefits the testing of next-generation rocket propulsion systems, but adds to the capabilities of the NASA Stennis Space Center, Marshall Space Flight Center, and the Propulsion Test Office at White Sands Test Facility (WSTF). It is also viable for other NASA ground- and flight-test facilities due to the ease of the system’s deployment. The system capabilities could also be expanded beyond rocket-propulsion ground test to include monitoring during other ground tests and potentially in situ testing including spaceflight.
This system could also find use in a multitude of research, defense, and commercial applications where precision measurements are required in difficult to install locations or retrofitted into infrastructure that is unconducive to wired systems. Including commercial aerospace test infrastructure, harsh chemical processing and manufacturing facilities, and power infrastructure.