When thinking about Aerospace, the most common acronym that comes to mind is NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). NASA is an independent agency of the Executive Branch of the United States Government.
Private contractors have been involved with NASA for many years by designing components. Telstar1 was the first communications satellite launched in 1962. It was powered by a NASA rocket. In 1984, the government passed laws allowing private companies to conduct their own launches. In 1990, a new law was passed that required NASA to pay private companies to launch their payloads.
The new law led to the development of a billion dollar industry. Members of this industry include:
- Space Exploration Technologies (Spacex) - Design and manufacture Falcon 9 rocket, Dragon spaceship
- Orbital Sciences - Design and manufacture Cygnus and Taurus 2 rocket
- Blue Origin - Design and manufacture New Shepard spaceship
- Bigelow Aerospace - Design and manufacture Sundancer and BA-330 spaceship
- SpaceDev - Design and manufacture Dreamchaser spaceship
- Virgin Galactic - Design and manufacture SpaceShip 2
This article explores examples of how companies and organizations utilize prime and emergency power for the aerospace industry. It also discusses how Diesel Service & Supply recently supplied a private aerospace contractor with an upgraded generator set.
From Construction to Launch
Rockets can carry communications satellites and cargo, and spaceships are equipped to carry cargo and passengers. The manufacturing of rockets and spaceships requires dependable power.
Hurricanes, severe weather and grid failures can cause power loss for short or extended periods of time. Loss of utility power during the construction phase can affect the following operations:
- Automated production equipment
- Securities, from cameras to electronic controlled doors
- Test equipment
- Overhead cranes
During the launch some common systems that require utility power are:
- Electronics for fueling operations
- Weather monitoring electronics
- Retraction of access arm and oxygen vent hood
- Hydrogen ignition system
- Hold down bolt release system
- After launch telemetry data electronics
The above lists just a few of the power requirements during the construction and launch of a rocket or spaceship. The aerospace industry is often on a schedule carved in stone. Any extensions in production or the cancellation of a launch are costly.
Diesel Generators Help Meet Power Requirements
There are three sources available today that offer backup power. Solar, wind, and diesel or natural gas generator. Using solar or wind energy as an emergency power source requires expensive battery banks that must be serviced and replaced at regular intervals. Both wind and solar charge the battery bank with Direct Current (DC) voltage. This style of setup requires an additional rectifier to change the DC voltage to Alternating Current (AC) voltage, in addition to switching gears. Available emergency power also depends on battery condition.
Natural Gas (NG) generators are supplied fuel through the utility natural gas pipe line. This allows for operation for extended amounts of time without tank refueling requirements.
Diesel generators in a sound attenuated enclosure offer an all-in-one contained unit that can provide power for locations on the utility grid and remote locations that do not have access to power and/or natural gas pipelines.
The engine and generator end are mounted onto framework. The framework includes fuel tank installation. A complete cooling system is mounted onto the framework. The sound attenuated enclosure is mounted to the frame and houses batteries, control panels, circuit breakers, and associated generation components.
When using this type of unit as an emergency power source, batteries must be on a charging system that delivers a trickle charge during standby operations. Start batteries charge during operation for prime and continuous generators used in remote locations.
Customized Upgrades for Aerospace Client
The aerospace industry has needs that exceed a standard generator set. Recently, Diesel Service & Supply worked hand in hand with a large aerospace contractor to establish a plan to install upgrades specifically designed for their needs.
The upgrades allowed the client to maximize their generator operations. These upgrades included:
- Load Bank Installation (left side of illustration) - Installing a load bank in the generator enclosure provides a testing confirmation that supplies an electrical load to external components.
- Breakers (right side of illustration) - Upgraded circuit breaker panel with 1200 amp, 500 amp and 400 amp breakers. The increase in amperage supports equipment needs.
- Control Tower Transformer - Transformers allow for voltage to be increased or decreased. Step-up transformers have more secondary windings that primary windings and increase output voltage. Step-down transformers have more primary windings than secondary windings and voltage output is decreased.
- Automatic Load Level Control - Maintains load at a continuous level.
- Fuel System Kit - Allows for easy refueling of fuel tank.
If you have a power generation need, Diesel Service & Supply can accommodate it. On a daily basis we install upgrades and configure generator sets to meet the needs of all of our clients. Contact us and our skilled staff will work with you to meet all of your power generation requirements.