When the Orbital-1 cargo resupply mission launched to the International Space Station Jan. 9 from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia, a Florida Tech experiment, SPHERES-Slosh, was part of the payload. Its development was led by faculty members Dan Kirk and Hector Gutierrez and supported by research associates Gabriel Lapilli and Sunil Chintalapati, both doctoral students, and Ryan Anderson, Charlie Holicker, Richard Schulman and Brian Wise, master’s degree students.
The experiment, which aims to improve rocket and spacecraft safety and efficiency, examines how liquids move around inside containers in microgravity. Typically, thermal-fluid engineers that work on rocket science problems use computational fluid dynamics models calibrated with low-gravity, long-duration slosh data; the data can improve the ability of rocket scientists and mission planners to develop higher performance and safer space propulsion vehicles.
Florida Tech teamed up with MIT and NASA Kennedy Space Center Launch Services to perform a series of slosh dynamics experiments in the International Space Station using the SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold Engage Reorient Experimental Satellites) platform. “The data we collect from the experiments will continue to push the frontiers of rocket science and help educate and train the next generation of rocket scientists,” said Kirk.
PHOTO: From left, Daniel Kirk, doctoral student Gabriel Lapilli and Hector Gutierrez oversee testing of the SPHERES Slosh Experiment at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in preparation for experiments on the International Space Station.