Roscosmos has come up with a system aimed at making sure that all rocketry components and other space systems remain in working order during transportation, a patent issued by Russia’s Rospatent intellectual property agency has confirmed.
The system is said to use Zigbee, a low-power-consumption wireless communication protocol commonly used in Smart Home applications, to collect medical data, in alarm systems, industrial control systems, etc.
According to the technical documentation, the system is designed to monitor the state of various components of space equipment during their transportation, and includes a navigation and telecommunications module to coordinate the operation of the system’s sensors, as well as the sensors themselves. These are said to include a complex network of thermometers, barometers, accelerometers, ultrasonic and IR sensors, and sensors monitoring flammable mixtures and humidity levels.
During transport, rockets and other components for use in space need to observe a variety of vibration, thermal load, and humidity standards to prevent potentially catastrophic malfunctions during launch or flight.
Traditionally, inspections of rocket parts being delivered to the Baikonur Spaceport in Kazakhstan by train have been carried out upon reaching their destination, with any defects leading components to be shipped back to their factory of origin, delaying whatever mission may be planned.
According to Roscosmos, its new semi-automated, wireless system allows for the speedy collection of data on the state of any components.
Theoretically, this will help ensure greater reliability of rocket and other components, and to determine when and where exactly any damage or defects were discovered.
Russia’s rocketry industry is known for its general high reliability, with Russia supplying rocket engine components not only domestically, but for US rocket manufacturers as well. At the same time, the tried and tested Soyuz rocket has remained the mainstay of manned missions to the International Space Station. On Saturday, Roscosmos subsidiary the Progress Rocket Space Centre announced that it would produce a single, universal Soyuz-2 rocket for use at both the Baikonur and Vostochny cosmodromes.