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Microgravity Science and Technology

, Volume 30, Issue 5, pp 663–673 | Cite as

The 2.5 s Microgravity Drop Tower at National Centre for Combustion Research and Development (NCCRD), Indian Institute of Technology Madras

  • Nikhil V.V.
  • Abhilash Nair
  • Niketh P
  • Amit Kumar
  • Muruganandam T.M.
Original Article
  • 97 Downloads
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Interdisciplinary science challenges for gravity dependent phenomena in physical and biological systems

Abstract

Space missions involving humans require a better understanding of various phenomena happening in space environments. A number of experiments need to be conducted in microgravity for addressing various issues encompassing safety (primarily fire) and better understanding of fluid and material behaviour. Of the various methods used for obtaining microgravity conditions, drop towers offer ground based microgravity platform. They provide a cost effective platform for doing short duration, repeatable, high quality microgravity experiments. This paper describes key factors that influence the design of a drop tower. The salient features of 2.5 s microgravity tower set up at National Centre for Combustion Research and Development (NCCRD), IIT Madras (IITM) are discussed. Primary features of the three critical elements, namely the drop capsule, the release unit and the decelerator unit are described along with review of these elements in existing drop towers. The IITM drop tower operates in ambient atmospheric conditions to minimise the cost of operation. In order to achieve good quality microgravity levels, a dual capsule configuration is adopted. The shape of the outer capsule is arrived at by detailed transient computational fluid dynamic analysis of the drag shield under free fall condition over the drop height. A pneumatic mechanism is used for capsule release and brought to rest at the end of fall in a carefully designed decelerator unit. The decelerator unit consists of an airbag with controlled air outflow for smooth deceleration.

Keywords

Microgravity drop tower Drop tower design Dual capsule Smooth deceleration 

Abbreviations

ASME-

American Society of Mechanical Engineers

cDAQ -

Compact Data Acquistion

CAS -

Chinese Academy of Sciences

DC -

Direct Current

DST -

Department of Science and Technology

GoI -

Government of India

GSM -

Grams per Square Meter

HASTIC-

Hokkaido Aerospace Science and Technology Incubation Center

IITM -

Indian Institute of Technology Madras

ISRO -

Indian Space Resesarch Organisation

LeRC -

Lewis Research Center

NASA -

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NCCRD-

National Center for Combustion Research and Development

NMLC-

National Microgravity Laboratory China

PVC -

Polyvinyl Chloride

SRE -

Space capsule Recovery Experiment

ZARM-

Zentrum für Angewandte Raumfahrttechnologie und Mikrogravitation

ZGRF -

Zero Gravity Research Facility

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors acknowledge the financial support provided by the DST(GoI) to National Centre for Combustion Research and Development (NCCRD) towards the development of the microgravity drop tower facility. Further, the authors are grateful to Mr Christian Eigenbrod and Dr. Thorben Könemann of ZARM, Prof. Osamu Fujita of Hokkaido University and Prof. Satoshi Okajima of Hosei University for their valuable suggestions and to Manu N M, Arjun B J, Sabarish V N for their valuable contributions in the preliminary stages of this endeavor.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nikhil V.V.
    • 1
  • Abhilash Nair
    • 1
  • Niketh P
    • 1
  • Amit Kumar
    • 1
  • Muruganandam T.M.
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Aerospace EngineeringIndian Institute of Technology MadrasChennaiIndia

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