Assembly in Action: Measurement Tool Plays Role in Rocket Launch
FARO Technologies Inc.’s (Lake Mary, FL) Laser Tracker played a key role in the Boeing Co.’s (Chicago) Delta IV rocket launch that deployed into space the first satellite for the U.S. Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch vehicle program.
The Laser Tracker helped with measuring tasks that were critical to building and testing the launch pad’s fixed pad erector (FPE) system at Space Launch Complex 37B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The Laser Tracker is used in large-scale dimensional measurement applications that require portability, accuracy and speed. It enables manufacturing, engineering and quality control professionals to measure and inspect large parts, machine tools and other large objects on-site, in-process or wherever it’s most efficient and cost-effective. The Laser Tracker uses a laser beam to measure objects up to 100 feet. Among its features is SuperADM, a high-speed distance measuring capability. ADM allows the user to measure effectively even if the laser beam has been interrupted, a key feature for the practical use of trackers.
The 164-foot-long FPE raises the rocket vertically, aligns it and transfers it onto the launch table. It works like a drawbridge, with more than two dozen precision interfaces requiring tolerances of ±0.03 inch. The Laser Tracker works at a range up to 230 feet.
During construction of the FPE, the device was set up on the launch pad to measure and locate the interfaces. It projected a beam that locked onto a handheld retroreflective target, which is moved by the operator over the surface being measured. The beam reflected off the target and retraced its path back to the device to measure distance. Angular encoders measure the orientation of the Laser Tracker’s two mechanical axes. Together the distance and angular measurements provided the exact 3D location of the target. Measurement data and 3D graphics created from the data are displayed on a computer connected to the device.
Key to the tracker’s ability to function on the launch pad was an integrated weather station that monitored temperature, air pressure and humidity at the beam.
For more information about Laser Tracker, call 800-736-0234 or visit www.faro.com.