LMS to develop composite fuel gauge for Stratolaunch hypersonic test vehicle
Carbon fiber composite fuel probe and signal conditioner unit will meet Mach 6 aircraft speed and intense flight environment requirements.
Photo Credit: Stratolaunch
It was announced on Jan. 4 that Liquid Measurement Systems, Inc. (LMS, Georgia, Va., U.S.) has been awarded a contract to design, develop, qualify and deliver a carbon fiber composite fuel quantity indicating system (FQIS) for Stratolaunch LLC’s (Seattle, Wash., U.S.) Talon-A hypersonic flying testbed.
Stratolaunch primarily designs, manufactures and launches aerospace vehicles and technologies to fulfill several important national needs, including the need to significantly advance U.S. hypersonic flight test capabilities and help improve the nation’s ability to design and operate cutting-edge hypersonic vehicles.
Now, the company says it is developing Talon-A as a flexible, fully reusable, autonomous vehicle that, flying at speeds up to Mach 6 (six times the speed of sound), will provide a reliable test environment for hypersonic research, experiments and enable operational missions. Stratolaunch says the Talon-A craft will be capable of take-off and landing on a traditional runway, or via mid-air launch from the Stratolaunch Carrier plane. It is currently planned to begin operation 2022.
LMS’ system will interface with Talon-A’s fuel and avionics systems. It consists of a lightweight and durable carbon fiber composite fuel probe and a signal conditioner unit that will communicate fuel quantity to the
aircraft avionics over an ARINC 429 bus, using software developed by LMS in accordance with the guidelines of DO-178C DAL-C (Software Considerations in Airborne Systems and Equipment). LMS also emphasizes the importance of the FQIS for the testbed; operating at speeds approaching Mach 6, the aircraft and its components will be exposed to high levels of heat, vibration and shock, requiring extreme ruggedness and reliability of its equipment.
With development and delivery of the fuel quantity indicating system for the Stratolaunch Carrier aircraft, LMS reports that it will deliver production hardware in May 2021.
“We are pleased that Stratolaunch has selected LMS again to be a part of their pioneering work on the hypersonic frontier, supporting applications that will advance work in government, commercial and academic sectors,” says LMS President Scott Fewell.
Compared to legacy materials like steel, aluminum, iron and titanium, composites are still coming of age, and only just now are being better understood by design and manufacturing engineers. However, composites’ physical properties — combined with unbeatable light weight — make them undeniably attractive.
Approaching rollout and first flight, the 787 relies on innovations in composite materials and processes to hit its targets
Commercial production of recycled carbon fiber currently outpaces applications for it, but materials characterization and new technology demonstrations promise to close the gap.