Why Are Quick Connectors Used for All Aerospace Applications?
Quick connectors, or fan connectors, are devices that allow for the transfer of data between various components within an aircraft or spacecraft. Quick connectors are also used for the removal of a spacecraft from a rocket-powered launch. Quick connectors are used in conjunction with the Connector and Data Link Adapter (CDLA) which can be used to hold data on a computer during the liftoff process.
The basic fan connector works by the use of a screw and washer or two, and the nuts and bolts assembly. The removable connectors are attached to the tail pipe, or heat shield, using a rubber adhesive that will allow for the connector to fit inside the thermal blanket.
The first Quick connector used for the initial stages of space travel is the one which connects the solar panels to the solar arrays. The primary purpose of the connector is to ensure a good electrical connection which will be required during the climb up to orbit.
As the spacecraft climbs through the atmosphere, it must acquire enough thrust to lower its electrical charge from the solar panels, which will be required as it approaches the speed of light. It is during the first few seconds of this phase that most if not all of the electric power needed to maintain flight will be required.
The standard connector for this task is the Quick connector, which can provide power to light the system on during the first seconds of the ascent. The connectors are also used on the surfaces of the spacecraft. During this time they will be sending out electricity to light them.
With regard to the support system, which includes the nose fairing, tail surfaces, RCS and maneuvering fins, the Quick connector will also have a role to play. These are commonly used systems for the space environment, and in many cases they can be used to build the rocket engine and get it on the launch pad.
The Connector and Data Link Adapter are the core component of the Shuttle fleet, and when it was first developed by Honeywell Corporation it was seen as a fail safe for the communication system that would be needed during liftoff. At that time it was thought that no other system would be needed for communications during launch.
However, with time the need for more connectors was felt, and NASA chose the Quick connectors to be used as the connector and adapter for the communications systems. The choice was made because the connectors could be reused, which in turn saved money in the long run.
However, as there are only three standard connector sets, and two of these include data and video connectors, there is a distinct lack of functionality when it comes to flexibility. There is also only one heat shield connector which is required to access the solar panels, and this has limited functionality.
Although the connectors can be reused during the various phases of launch and reentry, the heat shield connectors will not. With respect to the connectors, NASA feels that it would be cheaper for the hardware to simply use the existing connectors.
As far as the Type A connectors are concerned, these are the connectors that are used for the three types of cargo that the shuttle crew bring up to the International Space Station. They are used for the weather sensors, the cameras and the data collection packages.
After this transfer of information is completed and the shuttle crew returns to Earth, the connectors will again need to be used as the shields need to be installed again. With the connectors coming back to Earth a new option has been opened up, and that is the use of the connectors for the re-entry.