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Universal Balancing Supports UP Aerospace

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Universal Balancing
: 15 December, 2006  (Application Story)
A non-rotating static balancing machine from Universal Balancing has been instrumental in the successful launch of a rocket into space.
Heralding a new era of affordable public access to space, UP Aerospace installed the machine in July 2006 to support its inaugural flight. Preparing to send the companyšs first vehicle ­ the unmanned SpaceLoft XL ­ into space, president Jerry Larson identified the need to find the very best equipment to assist with balancing Rocket payloads in order to ensure a perfect trajectory.

'After investigating several suppliers, we went with our first choice,' explains Larson. 'Universal Balancing offered the best equipment range and support to meet our requirements. We needed a machine that offered the

highest possible accuracy and were particularly keen to deal with a company that designed and developed its own devices as opposed to one that supplied someone elsešs kit.'

The business and educational services offered by the Connecticut-based company include launching payloads into space, complete payload recovery and a range of tracking, telemetry and Avionics options. 'The static balancer is very simple to use and it takes just a few minutes to accurately balance even large pieces of equipment,' says Larson.

The non-rotating balancer is suitable for most single plane applications and provides fast measurement and extremely high accuracy, minimal guarding and clamp-free, self-centering tooling. As components do not need to be accelerated and decelerated during readings, operating costs are minimised and cycle times reduced to little more than that required for loading and unloading. The equipment's lack of moving parts ensures minimal maintenance downtime and reliable performance over an extended service life. Units are supplied complete with PC and touch screen display and will output results either as the amount and position of material to be removed from the component or to be added to it to bring it into balance.

UP Aerospace can handle payloads up to 110 pounds capacity, 10500 cubic inches in volume, 10 inches in diameter and 7 feet in length. The company provides opportunities for in-space payload deployment; space flight profiles up to 140 miles/225km with a wide range of micro gravity options.

The inaugural flight carried a payload that included research packages from universities: a prototype star tracker and data logger, thermocouples to analyse and record the characteristics of the space environment, a Vapor Phase Catalytic Ammonia Removal (VPCAR) system, more than 40 experiments from high school students from across America, plus several packages from US and European businesses.

In addition to customeršs payloads, UP Aerospace used the machine to balance all hardware items of the vehicle such as the fin, recovery (housing the parachutes) and nose cone sections. It will be used on all future Rocket flights. The next one is scheduled for the first quarter of 2007.

'This is a really neat piece of equipment,' says Larson. 'We are more than satisfied with its performance. Without it we could not possibly ensure the Rocket trajectory. Our inaugural flight on 25 September flew extremely straight ­ that could not have been achieved if both vehicle and payload had not been perfectly balanced. The vehicle was intended to fly beyond the international definition of space (100km/62 miles) with a final anticipated apogee of 365,000 feet (69.1 miles in 155 seconds). It flew on a flawless trajectory for 9 seconds, reaching an altitude of 24,000 feet when an anomaly caused a wobble in the flight's trajectory and the vehicle returned to earth having reached an altitude of 42,000 feet.

Once the problem has been identified and rectified, UP Aerospace anticipates a full launch calendar for 2007 and beyond ­ promising plenty of work ahead for the static balancing machine.
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