Hydraulic and Motion Control Systems
Reaching New Heights - Mission to Mars

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Tough application

Launch tower swing jib arm for precision maneuvering of heavy payload.

Ingenious solution

Innovative design and supply of hydraulic and motion control systems for launch tower set-up and swing jib functions

Low density supersonic decelerator launch tower

The launch tower links the vehicle to a balloon; once it floats up, the vehicle is released from the tower and the balloon carries it to high altitudes until the rocket kicks in.

jib at working height

Close up of swing jib at working height.


Hydraulic and Motion Control Systems

Mission to Mars

Bosch Rexroth Canada was instrumental in applying our latest fluid power and motion control technology, in the building of a rocket launch for a Supersonic Decelerator developed by NASA, to test safe landing of equipment and possibly humans on the surface of Mars.


Rexroth innovation reaching new heights

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is testing a new series of high-tech parachutes and a Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) to land heavy payloads on Mars. The Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF), a NASA contractor, was asked by JPL about the possibility of launching the LDSD with a solid fuel rocket and weighing 8000 lbs by balloon. CSBF required a different launch method for this application, one that can be controlled remotely with a lot of ground clearance. CSBF/NASA contracted Foremost Industries of Calgary, Alberta to design and build this Launch Tower. Foremost, a long time customer of Bosch Rexroth Canada, contacted us to design and supply the hydraulic and motion control systems for all functions on this Launch Tower.

The challenge was to design a hydraulic drive system for the Jib with two extremely different operating modes. The first, “Wind Compensation Mode” allows the Jib to swing 45 degrees on either side of center to align the payload to the wind direction for the balloon to pick up. The positioning is done at a very slow speed of 19 degrees per minute, to avoid any oscillations in the payload.

The second, “Payload Avoidance Mode”, allows the Jib to swing a maximum of 105 degrees in either direction in 2 seconds to clear the payload when launched.

With the help of Bosch Rexroth Canada, the hydraulic and motion control system were successfully commissioned in Calgary. The tower was then moved to Fort Sumner, NM, where CSBF launched a series of test balloons with dummy payloads.

Following that success, the tower was shipped to Kauai, Hawaii and re-commissioned for the successful June 2014 launch.

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Image credits: NASA/JPL - Caltech