Dynetics has utilised the latest structural testing tools available to evaluate the capabilities of its United Launch Alliance Vulcan Centaur booster, ensuring it can cope with extreme forces during flight.

This is just one of Dynetics projects at its Aerospace Structures Complex in Decatur, Alabama USA, which has a 43,000 square-foot integration facility, that allows for the assembly and test of large aerospace structures.

To provide structural qualification testing, the complex includes a test stand that is 60 feet long, 60 feet wide, and 100 feet high and has a hoist capability of 35 tons. An adjacent 4,000 square-foot test control center allows Dynetics engineers and customers to view live tests and analyze test data onsite.

At the new test stand, work centres on structural testing or tests of flight vehicles of various types, measuring how a structure reacts to applied loads. It also includes a data system with thousands of measurement channels from Hottinger Brüel & Kjær (HBK), as well as a dedicated control system that provides closed-loop control while ensuring safety from the previously-used data system.

Structural testing solutions

Dynetics test engineer, Ben Beeker explained the benefits of HBK’s structural testing solutions: “The choice is a control company that offered data as a side gig or vice versa. With HBK, what really rang with us was that they weren’t focused on control, but they had a control solution.

“They had worked with other supplier previously and had all the infrastructure to make the connection (between the other supplier system and the data system from HBK) possible. It was already in existence.”

Another service Dynetics provides is data acquisition from 3,000 strain gauges and more than 300 full-bridge pressure transducers on structures under test, plus additional sensors (such as string potentiometers) associated with the external equipment and a dedicated control system. Customer are able to observe tests and analyse results.

To acquire the data from all those channels, Dynetics use HBK’s MGCplus data-acquisition system, a versatile tool that can acquire not only strain data but also force, displacement, torque, and temperature data as well as voltage and current. The MGCplus can include single- and multiple-channel amplifiers for almost all physical quantities and can scale up to 20,000 channels.
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