CEV revolution mounted

by Chris Bergin

An innovative gimbal mount is being proposed for inclusion to the design of the CEV (Crew Exploration Vehicle), revolutionising the vehicle’s RCS (Reaction Control System) and solar panel orientation capabilities.

Images, information and the video showing the Canfield joint in action on a CEV in flight can be viewed on the links at the end of this article.

The motorised Canfield joint – named after its inventor, Dr. Steve Canfield of Tennessee Tech University – would see four single RCS thrusters, placed 90 degree apart around the circumference of the service module, with the ability to direct thrust to any direction in a hemispherical motion, replacing – and capable of even more manoeuvres than – the current four groups of four (16 in total) body-fixed thrusters.

Still working off the Apollo design, the CEV and its service module used a quad block of thrusters, used for attitude control. The new design shows the fixed block of multiple thrusters replaced with three motorised joints with the thrusters riding in centre at the top of the mount.

A presentation video shows the thrusters in action, swinging to pitch, yaw and roll the CEV, but with more manoeuvrability, utilising a more simplistic fashion of movement – compared to the complex multiple action ballet that ensues with the old system.

The Canfield joint is also being proposed for installation into the base attach points of the two solar panels – used to generate electricity to the CEV.

The CEV will need to minimize solar heating of its super cold propellants when travelling in space, which will incorporate what is called a ‘barbecue’ roll manoeuvre.

With the solar panels deployed out of the back of the rolling service module, the panels are unable to continually track the sun, under the current design proposal.

However, the Canfield joints finds a way around this problem, without the requirement of roll/slip rings. The proposed solution of using Canfield joints will ensure the power cable from the panels to the CEV won’t ‘wind up’ during rotation, due to the angled structure of the joint – and the flexible cable which the joint encompasses.

As seen on the video, the result is a CEV rolling whilst ‘swimming the backstroke’ in space, never losing track of the sun which provides its electricity and ensuring its propellant remains super-cold.

NASASpaceflight will be following this story up over the coming days and weeks.

Video of CEV using the Canfield joints can be downloaded here:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=1201&start=1 (sign up to the forum, for free, to view our video section and many downloads. We do NOT use your e-mail or pass it on for spam. It is ONLY used to send you your password).

CEV forum section:

Related Articles