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General Inquiry: Associate Director, Engineering Directorate
Phone: 281.483.8991

Mailing Address:
National Aeronautics & Space Administration
Johnson Space Center
Mail Code: EA
2101 NASA Parkway
Houston, Texas 77058

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Test Facilities Guide

Engineering Test Facilities Guide

Download the Engineering Test Facilities Guide (PDF).

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Air Bearing Floor

    Air Bearing FloorAir Bearing Floor
    Photo credit: NASA

    The Air Bearing Floor (ABF) or “flat floor” is a 70’ X 98’ epoxy surface designed to support rendezvous and contact testing that require low friction movement of test articles along a flat surface.

    Test articles are mounted on perforated pads that distribute a cushion of compressed air between the pads and the floor. The test articles “ride” on the air cushion and do not contact the floor. The floor is level within .003 inches per foot and .005 inches per 10 feet. It is polished to within 250 micro inches average deviation. It is positioned between a large manipulator facility and a gravity offload facility for accessibility.

    How the System Works

    The air bearings use compressed air to suspend and enable frictionless movement of mockups and hardware. Commercial rubber skirted air bearings are used with large loads. Ground plates with orifices are used for smaller loads. Typically, air is supplied via a hose to a compressed air source; bottled gas is an option. A 2,000 lb hoist and jib are mounted on the north edge of the ABF to support positioning of small modules onto the floor. Co-located with this hoist are 120 psi utility air and hose reel, 4,000 psi air outlet, and a utility electrical power.

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