Kennedy Space Center
NASA Technology Helping Military Aircraft Remain in Top Condition
A device invented by NASA experts is helping technicians detect wiring problems dramatically faster on aircraft, including those used by the U.S. military in Afghanistan. The portable Standing Wave Reflectometer (SWR) was created by engineers at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The device, developed in 1997 to better identify cable and wire malfunctions in aircraft and spacecraft, finds suspected problems to verify conditions of electrical power and signal distribution. This includes locating problems inside Space Shuttle orbiters.
"One of its first applications at KSC was detecting intermittent wire failures in a cable used in the Space Shuttle's Solid Rocket Boosters," said Pedro Medelius, who helped to invent the SWR. "It has also been used in the orbiter to locate electrical shorts in cables."
By identifying and locating the malfunction, technicians hope the SWR will reduce the time it takes to detect wiring problems by 85 percent. Currently, the SWR accurately locates faults 75 percent of the time.
Currently, the U.S. Navy, Marines and Air Force are evaluating the technology in Afghanistan to test its ruggedness. The country is known for a fine grade of sand and dusty conditions, a taxing combination rarely found in the United States.
Eclypse International Corp. in Corona, Calif., obtained exclusive patent rights in 1999 to further develop the technology. They anticipate completing enhancements within two years.
The device features an alphanumeric and illuminated display, an eight-hour rechargeable battery, and auto shut-off. It also resists force, fluids and extreme weather.
Those utilizing the SWR include repair facilities certified by the Federal Aviation Administration, commercial aircraft manufacturers and operators, the U.S. Department of Energy, rail operators and elevator maintenance companies.
Note to Editors: Pedro Medelius is available for interviews concerning the Standing Wave Reflectometer.
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