Development of a Reduced Gravity Test Rig for Waste Management 2008-01-2049
The space environment presents many challenges to the operation and functioning of life support systems. These challenges include reduced gravity, near vacuum ambient, extreme temperatures, and radiation. Proper testing and modeling of system components to account for these factors will be important for their verification. This paper describes the modeling and design of a reduced gravity test rig for waste management studies. The first investigation planned relate to the functioning of components of the Flexible Membrane Commode (FMC) currently under development at NASA Ames Research Center. The planned reduced gravity tests will be carried out in NASA's C'9 aircraft which provides approximately 25 seconds of reduced gravity per parabolic trajectory. The filling of the commode bag under the influence of a directed air flow will be studied. Simulated waste will be injected and cabin air will be used for directing the waste into the bag. The motion of the waste as a function of the air velocity will be studied by video imaging and pressure scans. The relative influence of reduced gravity and air drag force will be determined. In addition, the operational procedure for bag installation, removal and sealing will be verified. The experiments and associated data analysis will serve to advance the readiness level of the FMC technology.