The Development of a Data Acquisition and Control System for Rocket Propulsion Research

Javier Chaparro, University of Texas at El Paso


The MIRO Center for Space Exploration Technology Research (cSETR) at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) has developed the Technology Research and Innovation Acceleration Park (tRIAC) in Fabens, Texas. This facility has been established in order to meet new research demands for experimental testing of Liquid Oxygen (LOX)/Liquid methane (LCH4) propulsion systems. Within this facility, a vertical test stand capable of measuring up to 3,000lbf will be constructed for main engine testing of the JANUS and DAEDALUS vehicle programs. In order to meet challenges of precise remote system operation and data acquisition during engine testing, cSETR designed and built the Modular Instrumentation and Control Interface Trailer (MICIT). The MICIT is a fully enclosed, transportable system that contains a data acquisition system capable of collecting data from a myriad of aerospace testing instrumentation, as well as the ability to remotely control mechanical components. This system is designed with modularity for customization of the system to meet the requirements of a wide range of future experimental set-ups. In addition, the MICIT includes built-in safety features, both, software-based and hardware, to optimize system performance, while ensuring safe operation. This work will introduce the overall MICIT system design and development procedures. First, the operational, safety, and interface design requirements will be discussed, along with an introduction to the total system capabilities. Next, the transport trailer selection criteria, its capabilities, and the analysis that was carried-out to properly size and select the air conditioning unit will be presented. In addition, this work introduces the instrumentation and power distribution racks, their respective layouts, and their design. Within the instrumentation rack design section, the data acquisition equipment will be listed, along with their respective sensing capabilities. Correspondingly, the power distribution rack design section will discuss the system's power distribution capabilities. In this section one can find the rack power distribution components and their capabilities. This section will then discuss the power availability at the HQ site versus the test stand site, and will present the imposed system limitations, and how these limitations were derived, for powering the system from the HQ site. From this, the maximum number of instrumentation and hardware that can be used when powering the system from the HQ site will be listed. This section will conclude by discussing the emergency uninterruptable power supply sizing process and run time limitations. In conjunction, this work includes the interface panel connection types and the limitations on the type of instrumentation that can be connected at each port. Additionally, the method for controlling power through relays will be discussed. Furthermore, this work also includes a network communication system design overview, which describes the included components and their respective data capabilities. These include the network switches and the optic fiber cable. Within this work one can also find some of the integrated safety features of the system. This work also includes a system operational procedure that will discuss how to operate and use the MICIT system. Finally, this work provides a preventative maintenance checks and maintenance procedure to retain the system's optimal performance for years to follow.

Subject Area

Mechanical engineering

Recommended Citation

Chaparro, Javier, "The Development of a Data Acquisition and Control System for Rocket Propulsion Research" (2017). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10688993.