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For Release: August 30, 1995

Catherine E. Watson
(757) 864-6122

Release No. 95-87


Space Structure Vibration Experiment to Fly Aboard Space Shuttle

The Joint Dynamics Experiment (JDX) is scheduled to be launched aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour (STS-69) August 31. JDX will provide information on how one type of joint used in space structures, a pin-joint, is able to dampen (dissipate) vibrations while in space. Understanding how the absence of gravity changes the way components of a structure respond to vibrations is essential to the design of control systems that will actively control undesirable motions in future space structures, such as the International Space Station.

The JDX test structure will be carried in the payload bay of the Space Shuttle. The test structure has sensors that will measure the magnitude and frequency of any movements. A unique arrangement of mechanical levers and electro-magnetic latches apply bending and twisting forces to the test structure. These movements are controlled by a battery powered system that automatically conducts the tests and stores the test data for post-mission analysis.

Though JDX is managed by NASA Langley, it is primarily a student-developed and executed space flight experiment at Utah State University in Ogden, Utah. Seven undergraduates and seven graduate engineering students have been directly involved in all aspects of the project since it was selected by NASA in 1991. Four of those students have already received their master's degrees for their analysis of the JDX ground- and aircraft-based test data. Three other graduate students will receive master's degrees based on their analysis of the JDX/STS-69 flight data.

For more information on the JDX project, please contact the NASA Langley Office of Public Affairs at (757) 864-6123. A JDX fact sheet, and photos of the JDX test structure and an example of an erectable space structure built during a previous Space Shuttle mission are available. Interviews with the JDX project manager are also available.

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