Case Studies: Rocket Gets Boost from Laser

December 1, 2003
/ Print / Reprints /
ShareMore
/ Text Size+
The FARO Laser Tracker, built by FARO Technologies Inc., played a key role in The Boeing Co.'s Delta IV rocket launch earlier this year.

The laser tracker was used to test the Fixed Pad Erector System. Photo: FARO Technologies Inc.


The FARO Laser Tracker, built by FARO Technologies Inc. (Lake Mary, FL), played a key role in The Boeing Co.'s Delta IV rocket launch earlier this year that successfully deployed into space the first satellite for the United States 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, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL.

The 164-ft. long FPE raises the rocket vertically, aligns it and transfers it onto the launch table. It works somewhat like a drawbridge, with more than two-dozen precision interfaces requiring tolerances of ±0.03 inch. The FARO Laser Tracker is accurate to within 10 microns + 0.8 microns per meter and works at a range of up to 230 feet.

During construction of the FPE, the Tracker 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 Tracker to measure distance. Angular encoders measure the orientation of the Tracker's two mechanical axes. Together the distance and angular measurements provided the exact three-dimensional location of the target. Measurement data, as well as 3-D graphics created from the data, are displayed on a PC or laptop connected to the Tracker.

Key to its ability to perform on the launch pad was an integrated weather station that monitored temperature, air pressure and humidity at the beam. Finite element analysis of all kinematic and athermal components ensured the stability of the Tracker itself in variable conditions and over time, as does the thermally stable aluminum alloy used for structural components.

Faro Technologies Inc.

(800) 736-0234

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Quality Magazine. 

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

Multimedia

Videos

Podcasts

 In honor of World Quality Month, we spoke to James Rooney, ASQ Past Chairman of the Board of Directors 2013, for his take on quality around the world.
For more information, read the ASQ Speaking of Quality column.
More Podcasts

Quality Magazine

CoverImage

2014 July

Check out the July 2014 edition of Quality Magazine for features!

Table Of Contents Subscribe

The Biggest Obstacle/Concern?

In the current economic and business climate, what is the biggest obstacle/concern to your job?
View Results Poll Archive

Clear Seas Research

qcast_ClearSeas_logo.gifWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.

eNewsletters

STAY CONNECTED

facebook_40.png twitter_40px.png  youtube_40px.pnglinkedin_40px.png